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The  History  of  the 

Society  of  Merchant  Venturers 

of  the  City  of  Bristol 

The  History 

of  the 

Society  of  Merchant  Venturers 
of  the  City  of  Bristol 

With  some  Account  of   the  Anterior 
Merchants'  Guilds 

By  John  Latimer 


Bristol:    J.  W.  Arrowsmith,  Quay  Street 


I  HAVE  endeavoured  in  the  following  pages  to  comply 
with  a  desire  expressed  by  the  Society  of  Merchant 
Venturers,  by  compiling  from  their  own  Records  and 
other  sources  of  information  some  account  of  this 
ancient  incorporation. 

A  close  study  of  the  archives  made  between  the 
years  1897  and  1901,  during  which  period,  at  the  request 
of  the  Hall,  I  drew  up  a  Calendar  of  the  transactions  of 
the  Society  extending  over  three  large  volumes,  had  made 
me  familiar  with  the  subject.  But  the  preparation  from 
the  voluminous  documents  of  a  formal  history  of  a 
Corporation  forming  a  connecting  link  between  the 
Middle  Ages  and  modern  times  was  a  formidable  task ; 
and  I  should  not  have  ventured  to  undertake  it  but 
for  the  assistance  promised  (and  cordially  rendered)  by 
the  late  and  present  Treasurers  and  other  members  of 
the  Society,  and  but  for  the  large  measure  of  approval 
that  has  been  bestowed  upon  my  previous  efforts  to 
elucidate  local  history. 

It  is  somewhat  remarkable  that  although  the 
merchants  of  the  leading  outports  in  England  obtained 
royal  charters  of  incorporation  in  the  sixteenth  century, 
no  Merchant  Venturers'  Society  was  established  in 
London.  A  corporate  body,  eventually  styled  the 
Merchant  Adventurers  of  England,  had  indeed  been 
founded  by  Henry  the  Fourth,  and  granted  exclusive 
rights  of  trading  with  Germany  and  the  Low  Countries; 
but  as  a  document  delivered  by  its  officers  to  the  Star 
Chamber  in  1637  bears  witness,  the  members  "were  in 
those  times  dispersed,  and  dwelt  as  well  in  the  outports 


of  the  kingdom— viz. :  at  York,  Hull,  Exeter,  and 
Newcastle,  as  at  London,  though  the  greatest  number 
always  dwelt  at  London."  And  this  statement  is 
followed  by  a  declaration  of  the  same  officials  that 
"the  Head  Court  of  the  Society  ever  was,  and  yet  is, 
beyond  seas,  and  not  at  London,"  and  that  merchants 
at  Newcastle  and  other  towns  seeking  admission  to  the 
confederacy  were  elected  "at  one  of  the  Courts  beyond 
the  seas,"  and  were  not  only  required  to  appear  there  to 
take  the  oath  of  obedience  to  the  Company's  ordinances, 
but  were  moreover  "  liable  to  be  called  over  to  be 
Assistants  to  the  said  Company  beyond  seas."  (Records 
of  the  Merchant  Adventurers  of  Newcastle,  vol.  i.,  p.  19.) 
Down  to  the  rupture  with  Spain  in  the  reign  of  Elizabeth, 
the  General  Courts  of  this  singular  Society,  whose 
members  were  exclusively  Englishmen,  but  whose 
Governor,  Wardens,  and  Assistants  were  elected  and 
resided  abroad,  generally  assembled  at  Antwerp,  and  at 
that  time  the  members  living  in  London  do  not  appear 
to  have  had  a  recognised  right  to  elect  a  resident  Deputy 
Governor.  At  a  later  period,  the  headquarters  of  the 
fraternity  were  at  Hamburg,  whence  it  became  commonly 
known  in  this  country  as  the  Hamburg  Company ;  and 
it  being  then  customary  to  hold  three  General  Courts 
yearly — two  at  the  new  centre  and  one  in  London — the 
organisation  got  later  on  to  be  loosely  styled  the  "London 

By  the  charter  granted  to  the  Bristol  Merchants  by 
Edward  the  Sixth,  they  were  forbidden  to  traffic  in 
the  region  reserved  to  the  Merchant  Adventurers  of 
England  ;  but  this  restraint  was  abrogated  by  the 
second  local  charter  granted  by  Charles  the  First.  The 
latter  instrument,  resulting  from  the  temporary  capture 
of  this  city  by  the  Royalist  army,  was  probably  regarded 
as  invalid  by  the  party  that  afterwards  gained  supremacy. 
But  in  1662  Charles  the  Second,  in  response  to  a  petition 


setting  forth  the  decay  of  the  clothing  trade  in  the 
West  of  England  occasioned  by  the  narrow  policy  of 
the  English  Adventurers,  ordered  that  admission  to 
that  company  should  be  granted  to  all  merchants  at 
the  outports  on  payment  of  a  small  fine.  No  reference 
to  this  mandate  occurs  in  the  minutes  of  the  Bristol 
Merchant  Venturers.  But  from  the  Records  of  the 
Newcastle  Society,  which  I  had  not  been  able  to 
consult  when  narrating  the  local  contest  with  the  Levant 
Company  (page  138  post),  it  appears  that  in  1669  the 
Bristolians,  pleading  their  charters,  appealed  to  the 
Privy  Council  against  the  monopoly  claimed  by  the 
Hamburg  Company  ;  that  the  Government  invited 
representations  from  other  outports ;  and  that  the  Bristol 
Society  solicited  the  co-operation  of  the  Newcastle 
confederacy  "to  free  themselves  from  the  bondage  of 
the  Merchant  Adventurers  of  England."  Though  the 
northern  merchants  had  suffered  much  persecution  from 
the  London  members  of  the  Hamburg  Company,  they 
were  disinclined  to  lose  their  share  of  the  monopoly,  and 
ordered  their  agent  at  Court  to  support  the  Company, 
and  hold  aloof  from  "  these  interlopers."  (Newcastle 
Records,  i.,  137.)  The  interlopers,  however,  succeeded 
in  their  object.  The  Merchant  Adventurers  of  England 
still  flourished  for  a  time  at  Hamburg,  and  mention  of 
them  occurs  in  the  State  Papers  so  late  as  the  early 
years  of  George  the  Third ;  but  English  trade  with 
the  Hanse  Towns  had  then  been  entirely  unrestricted 
for  three-quarters  of  a  century. 

In  an  interesting  paper  by  Mr.  Cuthbert  Atchley  on 
the  ancient  documents  relating  to  All  Saints'  Church, 
Bristol,  published  in  the  Archceological  Journal  in  1901, 
is  a  transcript  of  a  deed  probably  executed  in  1286-7, 
during  one  of  the  mayoralties  of  Richard  de  Mangots- 
field,  two  of  the  witnesses  to  which  are  "  Symon  Adrian 
and  John  Clerk,  seneschals  of  the  Merchants'  Gild." 


As  three  members  of  the  Adrian  family  held  the  office 
of  mayor  between  1249  and  1302,  and  two  Clerks  were 
chief  magistrates  in  1243  and  1268  respectively,  the 
instrument  lends  further  confirmation  to  the  remarks 
on  the  close  connection  between  the  Corporation  and 
the  Guild  to  be  found  in  my  first  chapter. 

It  may  be  worth  adding,  in  reference  to  my  remarks 
(page  7)  on  the  original  meaning  of  the  word  "merchant," 
that  some  members  of  the  Society  of  Merchant  Adven- 
turers of  Newcastle  continued  to  trade  as  shopkeepers 
until  about  the  middle  of  the  eighteenth  century. 
(Newcastle  Records.) 

In  conclusion,  I  have  to  express  my  grateful 
acknowledgments  for  the  assistance  I  have  received  in 
the  preparation  of  this  volume  from  the  late  Treasurer 
and  present  Junior  Warden,  Mr.  George  Henry  Pope, 
who  devoted  much  time  and  labour  in  transcribing 
numerous  old  documents,  and  in  revising  and  correcting 
many  of  the  proofs;  to  the  Treasurer,  Mr.  Percy  L.  King; 
to  Mr.  Francis  F.  Fox,  F.S.A.,  who  kindly  perused 
my  manuscript  throughout,  and  supplied  many  useful 
hints ;  to  the  present  Father  of  the  Society,  Mr.  William 
Proctor  Baker;  to  a  third  Past  Master,  Mr.  William  W. 
Ward,  whose  valuable  contribution  is  incorporated  in 
the  volume ;  to  the  Clerk,  Mr.  Jere  Osborne ;  and  to 
the  City  Treasurer,  Mr.  J.  T.  Lane,  for  his  courtesy 
in  allowing  me  to  consult  the  civic  records.  I  have 
also  to  thank  the  staff  of  the  Privy  Council  and  of 
the  Record  Office  for  most  obliging  services  whilst 
pursuing  my  researches. 

The  Merchant  Venturers'  Society 
of  Bristol. 



BEFORE  entering  upon  the  history  of  the  Bristol  Society 
of  Merchant  Venturers,  it  seems  desirable  to  describe, 
as  far  as  the  scanty  materials  permit,  the  institutions 
of  a  mercantile  character  that  existed  and  gradually 
developed  in  this  and  other  boroughs  during  the  five 
centuries  extending  from  the  Conquest  to  the  date  of  the 
Society's  first  charter.  The  earlier  and  darker  part  of 
this  period,  which  is  very  inadequately  treated  by  both 
national  and  local  historians,  has  been  recently  much 
elucidated  by  a  painstaking  and  deeply-read  German 
professor,  Dr.  Charles  Gross,  who  appears  to  have  made 
researches  in  the  archives  of  every  important  English 
town,  and  whose  general  conclusions,  published  in  his 
work  on  The  Gild  Merchant,  are  based  on  so  wide  an 
embodiment  of  facts  as  to  place  him  in  the  highest  rank 
of  trustworthy  authorities. 

Dr.  Gross  has  been  unable  to  find  any  trace  of  the 
existence  of  an  English  Guild  Merchant  in  the  Anglo- 
Saxon  period  of  our  history,  or  indeed  of  any  body 
forming  the  nucleus  of  borough  government,  although 


Merchant  Guilds  had  then  been  undoubtedly  established 
in  some  parts  of  Normandy  and  Northern  France.  The 
history  of  our  own  guilds,  therefore,  begins  after  the 
advent  of  the  Conqueror,  when,  says  Dr.  Gross,  the  close 
unity  between  England  and  Normandy  led  to  an  increase 
in  foreign  commerce,  and  greatly  stimulated  internal 
trade  and  industry.  With  the  expansion  of  trade,  the 
mercantile  element  naturally  became  a  more  important 
factor  in  town  life,  and  would  soon  feel  the  need  of  joint 
action  to  guard  the  nascent  prosperity  against  encroach- 
ment. The  earliest  extant  references  to  the  Guild 
Merchant,  he  adds,  occur  in  a  charter  granted  by 
Robert  Fitz  Hamon  [Lord  of  the  Honour  of  Gloucester] 
to  the  burgesses  of  the  little  town  of  Burford  (1087-1107), 
and  in  a  document  drawn  up  whilst  Anselm  was  Archbishop 
of  Canterbury  (1093-1109).  Soon  afterwards,  during  the 
reign  of  Henry  the  First  (1100-1135),  the  Guild  appears 
in  various  municipal  charters,  and  its  propagation  must 
have  been  greatly  stimulated  by  the  further  extension 
of  England's  Continental  possessions  under  Henry  the 

Several  of  the  early  charters  granted  to  Bristol  have 
unfortunately  perished.  But  that  important  privileges 
had  been  conceded  to  the  borough  by  the  Conqueror 
himself  seems  probable  from  an  entry  in  Domesday  Book 
relating  to  the  town  of  Rhuddlan,  which  is  stated  to  have 
been  granted  the  laws  and  customs  of  Hereford  and 
Bristol  (Dom.  B.,  i.  269).  The  possession  of  all  reason- 
able guilds  was  granted  to  Bristol  by  Robert,  Earl  of 
Gloucester,  and  William  his  son  (1109-1173);  and  these 
charters,  which  have  also  disappeared,  may  have  been 
only  confirmations  of  previous  concessions,  for  the  early 
charters  of  London  prove  that  successive  kings  conceded 
rights  and  privileges  over  and  over  again  in  precisely  the 


same  terms,  ignoring  the  identical  boons  of  their  pre- 
decessors. Thus  the  existing  charter  of  liberties  granted 
to  Bristol  by  John  (c.  1188)  before  his  accession,  whilst 
Lord  of  the  Honour  of  Gloucester  through  his  marriage 
with  Earl  William's  daughter,  was  probably  merely  a 
confirmation  of  rights  that  the  townsmen  already  enjoyed. 
And  this  assumption  seems  strengthened  by  the  fact  that 
John's  father,  Henry  the  Second,  in  1171,  granted  to  the 
men  of  Bristol  the  city  of  Dublin,  to  inhabit  the  same, 
and  to  enjoy  there  the  liberties  and  free  customs  which 
they  possessed  in  their  own  town  and  through  the  whole 
realm  (a  facsimile  of  this  remarkable  document  has  been 
produced  by  the  Corporation  of  Dublin,  and  may  be  seen 
at  the  Museum  and  Library).  To  what  extent  Bristolians 
availed  themselves  of  the  royal  gift  is  unknown ;  but  in 
November,  1200,  King  John  made  afresh  grant  of  liberties 
to  the  burgesses  of  Dublin,  permitting  them,  inter  alia,  to 
have  all  guilds,  as  well  as,  or  better  than,  those  enjoyed 
by  the  burgesses  of  Bristol  (Charter  Rolls).  The  privileges 
of  Bristol  were  in  fact  so  extensive,  and  so  much  coveted 
by  other  boroughs,  that  it  became  the  custom  for  less 
favoured  communities  to  appeal  to  the  Crown  for  the  like 
concessions,  and  Dr.  Gross  gives  a  list  of  thirty-one 
Guild  towns,  of  which  he  states  that  Bristol  may  be  styled 
the  "  mother."  They  include  Redcliff,  Hereford,  Chester, 
Lancaster,  Lichfield,  Shrewsbury,  Stratford,  Bideford, 
Sodbury,  and  nearly  all  the  chief  towns  in  Ireland  from 
Londonderry  to  Cork.  None  of  these,  however,  obtained 
the  full  privileges  enjoyed  by  Bristolians.  In  the  reign 
of  Richard  the  First  the  import  of  foreign  wines  was 
exclusively  confined  to  London  and  Bristol  (Madox's 
Exchequer),  and  the  western  port  seems  to  have  had  the 
largest  share  of  the  trade,  for  the  Patent  and  Close  Rolls 
of  King  John  and  his  son,  Henry  the  Third,  contain  a 


multitude  of  mandates  of  wine  for  the  Royal  household 
and  Court  favourites.  One  of  these  writs,  dated  August 
2ist,  1216,  when  John  was  at  Bristol,  is  addressed  to 
Roger  Cordwaner,  Mayor  of  the  town,  a  fact  which  has 
been  overlooked  by  all  the  historians  of  the  city,  their 
lists  of  chief  magistrates  beginning  after  the  King's  death. 
The  existence  of  the  Guild  Merchant  being  established, 
the  functions  of  that  body  may  next  be  examined.  The 
essence  of  the  institution,  says  Dr.  Gross,  was  "clearly  a 
concession  of  the  exclusive  right  of  trading  within  the 
borough.  The  Gild  was  the  department  of  town 
administration  whose  duty  was  to  maintain  and  regulate 
the  trade  monopoly."  In  some  towns  the  right  of  pre- 
emption was  reserved  to  the  members.  One  of  the 
Southampton  ordinances,  quoted  by  Dr.  Gross,  runs  as 
follows: — "No  simple  inhabitant  or  stranger  shall  bargain 
for  nor  buy  any  kind  of  merchandise  coming  to  the  town 
.  .  .  so  long  as  a  gildsman  is  present  and  wishes  to 
bargain  for  or  buy  it ;  and  if  any  one  does  it,  and  is  found 
guilty,  that  which  he  buys  shall  be  forfeited  to  the  King." 
The  regulations  in  Bristol  were  at  one  period  less  stringent. 
In  the  Close  Rolls  of  2nd  Henry  the  Third  (1217),  over- 
looked by  Dr.  Gross,  is  a  royal  mandate  to  the  bailiffs  of 
Bristol,  ordering  them  to  distrain  on  those  who  did  not  wish 
to  be  of  the  Guild  Merchant  according  to  the  custom  of 
the  town,  for  the  payment  of  an  aid  towards  acquitting 
the  tallage  fixed  by  the  King's  writ.  It  will  afterwards  be 
seen,  however,  that  the  Bristol  merchants  subsequently 
claimed  a  monopoly  of  trade.  At  an  early  period  the 
Guild  had  become  an  official  civic  body,  and  a  constituent 
part  of  the  municipal  government.  In  1235,  Robert  the 
Goldsmith  granted  a  rent-charge  upon  two  stone  houses 
opposite  to  St.  Nicholas's  Church  for  the  chaplain 
celebrating  mass  there — the  chaplain  to  be  chosen  by  the 


Mayor  and  the  Steward  of  the  Merchants'  Guild.  The 
Seneschal  of  the  Guild  is  also  mentioned  in  another  deed 
of  1240.  In  an  inquisition  of  the  liberties  of  the  Bristol 
Guild  Merchant  taken  in  the  I3th  Edward  the  First 
(1285),  one  of  the  findings  is  that  although  it  was  granted 
to  the  good  men  of  Bristol  that  no  foreign  merchant 
should  stay  there  with  his  wares  for  sale  beyond  forty 
days,  and  no  stranger  sell  to  another  stranger,  yet  that 
merchants  did  come  in  from  distant  places,  contrary  to 
the  charter,  to  the  damage  of  the  town,  and  no  small 
burden  on  the  burgesses.  At  first,  the  Guild  and  the 
civic  body  proper  are  likely  to  have  kept  distinct  purses — 
at  the  Guildhall  and  the  Compter  or  Tolsil,  but  their 
funds  appear  to  have  been  amalgamated  before  1314,  for 
in  a  manuscript  copy  of  the  Customs  of  the  town  of 
Bristol,  in  Corpus  Christi  College,  Cambridge,  the 
burgesses  inform  Edward  the  Second  that  "  out  of  the 
profits  of  the  Gild  of  Merchants  and  of  the  town  they 
support  eight  bridges,  the  pavement  or  pitching,  five 
conduits  of  water,  the  Quay,  and  the  public  officers." 
(Barrett,  vii.)  This  amalgamation  became  general  in  all 
parts  of  the  country.  Dr.  Gross  observes : — "  When 
trade  and  industry  underwent  a  great  expansion  during 
the  period  of  the  three  Edwards,  the  mercantile  interests 
must  have  become  completely  dominant  in  many  towns, 
the  burgher  merging  in  the  townsman,  and  gildship 
becoming  an  appurtenance  of  burgess-ship.  .  .  .  The 
same  men  swayed  the  counsels  of  the  borough  and  gild. 
As  the  mercantile  element  attained  greater  preponderance 
the  natural  tendency  would  be  to  regard  the  gild  officers 
as  superfluous,  and  to  consolidate  the  headship  of  the 
gild  and  that  of  the  borough."  That  this  was  the  result 
in  Bristol  may  be  assumed  from  the  fact  that,  excepting 
on  one  occasion,  there  is  no  subsequent  mention  of  an 


independent  Merchants'  Guild.  The  case  of  the  town  of 
Gloucester  is  still  more  striking,  for  there  the  Guild  actually 
became  the  Corporation.  The  first  common  seal  of  that 
borough,  an  impression  of  which  is  appended  to  a 
document  executed  between  1237  and  1245,  bears  the 
inscription  in  Latin : — "  Seal  of  the  Burgesses  of  the 
Merchants'  Gild  of  Gloucester."  The  second  civic  seal, 
dating  about  150  years  later,  bears  the  same  inscription; 
and  the  third,  which  was  cut  in  1564,  and  continued  in 
use  until  1661,  is  inscribed  in  Latin  as  the  "  Seal  of  the 
Mayor  and  Burgesses  of  the  Merchants'  Gild  of  the  City 
of  Gloucester."  (Trans.  Bristol  and  Glos.  Arch.  Soc.,  xiii. 
387.)  These  seals  are  believed  to  be  unique,  but  there 
are  abundant  indications  in  local  histories  that,  although 
the  fact  was  not  so  boldly  proclaimed,  the  Guild  became 
omnipotent  in  many  corporations. 

The  exceptional  reference  to  the  Guild  Merchant  in 
the  civic  records  of  a  later  date,  alluded  to  above,  occurs 
in  the  year  1372,  and  is  found  in  the  Great  Red  Book, 
fo.  34.  Edward  the  Third  having  claimed  that  the  local 
Collector,  William  de  Somerwell  (Mayor,  1388),  should 
account  to  the  Crown  for  the  fines  of  bakers,  fines  for 
enjoying  the  freedom  of  the  town,  and  various  other 
moneys  levied  in  Bristol,  the  Mayor  and  Bailiffs  put  in 
an  answer,  in  which  they  assert  that  "  the  town  is  an 
ancient  borough,  and  a  mayor,  bailiffs,  and  a  community 
have  existed  beyond  the  memory  of  man ;  in  which 
borough  the  said  mayor,  bailiffs,  and  community,  and 
their  antecessors  have  had  a  free  Gild  Merchant,  and 
all  things  that  pertain  to  a  Gild  Merchant,  namely,  to 
buy  and  sell  in  the  said  town  free  and  exempt  from 
customs  and  toll,  and  to  have  various  other  privileges 
such  as  pertain  to  the  Gild  Merchant.  By  virtue  of  the 
said  Gild  and  freedom  the  said  Mayor  and  Sheriff,  and 


their  predecessors,  have  been  accustomed  all  this  time  to 
levy,  for  their  own  use,  a  certain  payment  from  all  who 
were  admitted  to  the  freedom  and  society  of  the  Gild, 
for  having  the  freedom  of  the  said  Gild,  according  to 
what  could  be  reasonably  agreed  upon  between  them." 
They  then  recite  the  charter  of  John,  and  that  of  the 
4oth  year  of  Henry  the  Third  (1256),  the  latter  conceding 
to  Bristol  all  the  liberties  and  free  customs  enjoyed  by 
the  citizens  of  London,  which  privileges  Edward  the 
Third  had  himself  ratified  and  confirmed  to  Bristol  by 
his  charter  of  1331.  This  answer  appears  to  have  put 
an  end  to  the  royal  demands. 

The  fact  that  the  royal  claim  included  the  fees  paid  by 
bakers  on  admission  to  the  freedom  shows  that  the  Guild 
had  a  much  wider  basis  than  its  name  implies.  In 
dealing  with  this  subject,  Dr.  Gross  asserts  that  crafts- 
men were  freely  admitted  to  the  Merchants'  Guilds  from 
the  twelfth  century  downwards,  and  adds :  "  The  term 
merchant,  as  is  well  known,  was  not  in  those  days 
confined  to  large  dealers,  but  embraced  all  who  traded. 
.  .  .  Every  master  craftsman  was  regarded  as  a 
merchant,  for  he  bought  his  raw  material,  and  sold  the 
products  of  his  handiwork  in  his  shop,  or  at  his  stall. 
.  .  .  Craftsmen  were  not  only  admitted  to  the  Guild 
Merchant,  but  also,  in  all  probability,  constituted  the 
majority  of  its  members."  (It  may  be  observed  that 
north  of  the  Tweed,  a  century  ago,  all  retail  tradesmen 
were  styled  merchants,  and  that  the  custom  still  lingers 
in  many  small  Scottish  towns,  while  in  Paris  to-day  the 
occupiers  of  the  lowest  class  of  liquor  shops  continue  to 
call  themselves  wine  merchants.)  Bishop  Stubbs,  in  his 
Constitutional  History  (i.  474),  practically  comes  to  the 
same  conclusion  as  Dr.  Gross,  observing  : — "  The 
right  of  the  Merchant  Guild  to  exclude  from  the 


privileges  of  trading  all  who  were  not  members  of 
its  own  body  seems  to  imply  necessarily,  either 
that  the  craft  guilds  originally  stood  in  a  filial  relation 
to  it,  or  that  the  membership  of  the  narrower 
involved  also  the  membership  of  the  wider  society." 
The  wealthier  class,  however,  gradually  succeeded  in 
securing  an  ascendency  in  the  municipal  government, 
as  well  here  as  in  other  towns.  In  1312  an  attempt 
of  fourteen  influential  Bristolians  to  withdraw  the 
management  of  civic  affairs  from  the  hands  of  the 
burgesses  at  large  led  to  what  has  been  called  the 
Great  Insurrection,  which  lasted  for  upwards  of  three 
years,  during  which  the  townsmen  set  the  royal  power 
at  defiance,  fortified  themselves  against  attacks  from  the 
Castle,  and  collected  and  spent  the  Customs  of  the  port. 
Though  the  struggle  apparently  ended  in  a  drawn  battle, 
it  is  clear  that  the  Corporation  became  more  "  select " 
and  less  responsible  than  had  been  the  rule  in  previous 
reigns  ;  and  with  irresponsibility  came,  here  as  elsewhere, 
abuses  of  power.  But  in  later  troubles  there  is  no 
mention  of  the  Guild  Merchant,  and  rarely  of  the  crafts, 
which  began  to  be  incorporated  as  separate  confederacies, 
and  were  granted  considerable  powers  for  the  regulation 
of  their  respective  trades  and  the  expulsion  of  "foreigners" 
— meaning  non-burgesses — under  masters  and  wardens 
chosen  amongst  themselves,  though  strictly  subservient 
to  the  Mayor  and  Common  Council.  "With  the  rapid 
development  and  specialisation  of  industry,  particularly 
under  Edward  the  Third,  gilds  of  craftsmen  multiplied 
and  grew  in  power.  Many  master  craftsmen  became 
wealthy  employers  of  labour.  .  .  .  The  class  of 
dealers  or  merchants,  as  distinguished  from  trading 
artificers,  also  greatly  increased,  forming  themselves 
into  separate  fraternities  or  mysteries.  When  these 


various  unions  of  dealers  and  of  craftsmen  embraced 
all  the  trades  and  branches  of  production  in  the  town, 
little  vitality  remained  in  the  old  Gild  Merchant "  (Gross, 
i.  117).  A  further  development  of  the  period  was  the 
rise  of  the  "  freeman."  Citizenship,  originally  based  on 
burgage  tenure,  was  gradually  transformed  into  a  personal 
privilege,  being  obtained  by  birth,  apprenticeship,  or 
marriage,  and  occasionally  by  purchase  or  gift ;  freemen 
thus  becoming  the  successors  of  the  ancient  Guild 

The  great  importance  of  the  clothing  trade  of  Bristol 
in  the  i/j-th  century  seems  to  necessitate  a  slight  digression 
from  the  main  object  of  this  chapter.  It  is  generally 
assumed  that  this  industry  was  of  comparative  unimport- 
ance in  a  domestic  point  of  view  until  the  reign  of 
Edward  the  Second ;  and  Dr.  Gross,  who  refers  to  it 
only  incidentally,  adopts  the  assertions  to  that  effect  to 
be  found  in  many  histories.  There  is  evidence,  however, 
that  the  weaving  trade  was  not  wholly  insignificant  more 
than  a  century  earlier.  Madox  offers  proof  that  in  or 
about  1140  the  weavers'  guilds  of  London,  Oxford, 
Lincoln,  and  Winchester  applied  to  the  Crown  for 
confirmations  of  their  privileges.  Foreign  craftsmen 
from  Northern  France  and  Flanders  also  found  their 
way  into  the  West  of  England,  and  set  up  their  looms, 
and  foreign  names,  such  as  Walter  le  Fraunceis  (Mayor, 
1232)  and  William  de  Bellomonte  (Bailiff,  1242),  began 
to  appear  in  the  list  of  Bristol  officials.  Weavers  and 
dyers  are  mentioned  in  the  Cirencester  records  early  in 
the  reign  of  Henry  the  Third,  and  by  about  1250  the 
clothing  industry  had  become  so  extensive  there  in  the 
hands  of  two  foreigners  named  Beaupyne,  and  others, 
that  a  street  originally  called  Cheaping  Street  had 
received  the  name  of  Dyers'  Street.  At  the  same  date, 


as  is  shown  by  a  deed  in  the  Museum  and  Library,  a 
street  on  the  Redcliff  side  of  the  Avon  had  become 
Tuckers'  (or  Fullers')  Street,  and  a  part  of  High  Street 
was  called  The  Drapery. 

In  the  rules  drawn  up  in  1292  for  the  household  of 
the  Archbishop  of  Canterbury  was  one  fixing  the  seasons 
for  buying  "  the  great  purchases  "  of  the  establishment, 
in  which  it  is  stated  that  "robes"  were  to  be  bought  at 
Bristol  at  St.  James's  tide — that  is,  at  the  fair  already 
famous  throughout  the  kingdom  as  a  cloth  mart.  The 
activity  of  the  trade  at  this  period  is  therefore  clearly 
established  ;  but  it  was  probably  seriously  affected  during 
the  later  wars  of  Edward  the  First.  Its  revival  and 
greatly  increased  vigour  under  his  successors  brings  us 
to  the  appearance  of  another  importation  into  Bristol, 
the  family  of  Blanket,  whose  name  first  occurs  in  1318. 
The  local  historians  (the  cautious  Seyer  excepted)  concur 
in  asserting  that  these  new-comers  were  the  first  to 
produce  the  well-known  bed  material,  and  that  it  received 
their  name  on  that  account.  But  though  this  myth  is 
commonly  accepted  in  the  city,  the  truth  of  the  matter 
is  that  these  weavers,  like  some  other  workmen,  obtained 
their  surname  from  their  production.  White  cloth  is 
called  blankete,  blanquet,  and  blanchette  by  very  old 
French  writers,  and  one  of  the  biographers  of  Thomas 
Becket  alleges,  on  ocular  authority,  that  the  dress  of  the 
Archbishop  was  a  "  curtil  of  whit  blankit,"  150  years 
before  the  Blankets  were  heard  of  in  Bristol. 

Soon  after  the  arrival  of  the  Blankets,  who  afterwards 
became  leading  citizens,  the  Cirencester  Beaupynes 
removed  here  and  grew  wealthy ;  and  it  may  be  fairly 
assumed  that  when  Edward  the  Third  repeatedly  invited 
Flemish  weavers  to  England  (Foedara,  iv.,  496,  723,  751), 
and  when  Parliament  forbade  the  import  of  foreign  cloth 


and  permitted  clothworkers  from  the  Continent  to  settle 
in  this  country  where  they  chose  (1337),  many  artisans 
found  their  way  to  Gloucestershire.  Notwithstanding 
the  obvious  advantages  opened  to  commerce  by  this 
policy,  the  intense  repugnance  to  foreign  interlopers 
common  to  all  English  boroughs  continued  to  animate 
the  civic  rulers  in  Bristol.  Soon  after  Thomas  Blanket 
and  other  weavers  had  set  up  more  extensive  machinery 
in  their  houses  to  meet  the  increased  demand  for  home- 
made cloth,  the  Corporation  imposed  a  tax  upon  the 
plant,  and  "troubled  and  aggrieved"  the  owners  and 
their  workmen  "in  various  ways."  The  oppressed  men 
thereupon  appealed  to  the  Crown  for  relief,  and  the 
King,  in  November,  1339,  sent  down  a  peremptory  order 
that  the  weavers  should  be  no  longer  harassed  or  molested 
(Rolls  of  Parliament,  ii.  449).  That  it  was  effectual 
seems  proved  by  the  fact  that  Thomas  Blanket  was 
elected  one  of  the  Bailiffs  in  the  following  year.  The 
development  of  the  trade  soon  became  rapid,  and  before 
the  end  of  the  reign  English  merchants  were  competing 
with  foreigners  for  a  share  in  the  continental  markets. 
Chaucer,  who  witnessed  the  progress,  writes  in  his 
Prologue  that  English  shippers 

Knew  wel  alle  the  havenes  as  they  were 
From  Gootland  to  the  Cape  of  Fynystere, 
And  every  cryke  in  Bretayne  and  at  Spayne. 

And  amongst  these  merchants  none  were  more  active 
and  adventurous  than  those  of  Bristol  in  Southern 
France  and  the  Peninsula. 

The  mercantile  class  became  further  differentiated 
from  the  crafts  by  the  establishment — chiefly  for 
facilitating  the  collection  of  the  King's  Customs — of 
the  Merchant  Staplers.  Down  to  the  reign  of  Edward 
the  First,  when  the  chief  English  export  was  wool,  the 


trade  in  which  was  chiefly  in  the  hands  of  German 
Hanse  merchants,  the  staple  town  to  which  the  goods 
were  sent  for  sale  was  generally  Bruges,  Calais,  or 
Antwerp,  and  the  staplers  had  the  monopoly  of  exporta- 
tion. In  the  7th  Edward  the  Second,  however,  a 
document  in  the  Record  Office  shows  that  a  "  Mayor 
of  the  Merchants,"  commonly  styled  the  Mayor  of  the 
Staple,  had  been  established  at  London,  Bristol,  New- 
castle, Hull,  Southampton,  and  seven  other  ports,  where 
the  merchants,  natives  and  foreigners,  were  allowed  the 
exclusive  privilege  of  exporting  wool  to  the  Continent, 
and  the  officers  of  Customs  were  ordered  to  assist  the 
mayors  in  the  execution  of  the  powers  confided  to  them. 
By  a  statute  of  1328  it  was  enacted  that  the  staples 
beyond  the  seas  and  at  home,  ordained  by  kings  in  times 
past,  should  cease,  and  that  merchants,  foreigners  or 
natives,  might  freely  go  or  come  with  their  wares  in 
England.  Nevertheless,  in  1353  staples  were  again 
established  in  Bristol  and  ten  other  English  towns, 
which  were  further  favoured  by  an  Act  of  Parliament 
abolishing  the  staple  at  Calais.  In  the  reign  of  Richard 
the  Second  the  most  prominent  English  staples  were 
those  of  London,  Bristol,  Exeter,  and  Boston.  Several 
of  the  others  had  disappeared  in  the  reign  of  Henry  the 
Sixth.  It  is  remarkable  that  the  corporate  archives  of 
this  city  contain  very  little  information  respecting  this 
privileged  institution.  The  most  important  entry  in 
connection  with  it  is  in  the  Little  Red  Book  (fo.  72  b), 
from  which  we  learn  that  John  Milton,  Mayor  of  the 
Staple  [and  also  Mayor  of  the  town],  whose  election 
had  been  approved  in  1435  by  the  King  after  having  been 
chosen  by  the  native  and  foreign  merchants  of  the  port, 
had  died  in  office  in  the  following  February,  whereupon 
the  Constables  of  the  Staple,  Thomas  Fissche  and 


William  Canynges,  who  had  also  been  approved  by  the 
King,  had  convoked  the  merchants,  who  had  elected 
Nicholas  Devenyssche  as  Mayor  for  the  remainder  of  the 
yearly  term,  and  the  Crown  was  prayed  to  confirm  the 
appointment.  It  is  evident  from  the  tenor  of  this  docu- 
ment, and  from  a  statute  of  27th  Edward  the  Third, 
that  the  mayors  and  constables  of  the  Staples  were 
functionaries  of  the  King,  originally  distinct  from  the 
municipal  authorities,  the  Act  emphatically  ordaining 
that  foreign  merchants  should  be  protected  and  justice 
done  to  them  according  to  the  Law  Merchant  exclusively, 
and  not  according  to  the  common  law  of  the  realm,  or 
before  burghal  tribunals.  (A  transcript  of  this  Lex 
Mercatoria,  written  in  a  fourteenth  century  hand  and 
believed  to  be  unique,  is  one  of  the  most  valuable  and 
interesting  manuscripts  in  the  Little  Red  Book ;  fo.  22, 
&c.)  The  staple  ensured  the  quality  of  the  goods 
exported  by  providing  machinery  for  examining,  weighing, 
and  marking  them,  and  stimulated  commerce  by  pro- 
tecting alien  merchants.  In  course  of  time  it  became 
customary  for  the  mayors  of  Bristol  to  act  ex  officio  as 
mayors  of  the  Staple,  and  the  Seal  of  the  Staple  Court 
affixed  to  its  decisions  is  still  preserved  at  the  Council 
House,  where  the  weights  used  by  the  officials  were  also 
formerly  kept. 

The  increase  of  home  manufactures  probably  sapped 
the  foundation  of  the  Staple  system,  and  the  foreign 
element  in  its  organisation  gradually  died  out.  In  1407 
a  charter  was  granted  by  Henry  the  Fourth,  incorporating 
a  Company  of  Merchant  Adventurers,  who  carried  on 
trade  chiefly  with  Germany  and  the  Netherlands,  and 
were  granted  a  monopoly  in  the  exportation  of  certain 
manufactured  articles.  This  was  a  strictly  private  com- 
pany, and  was  not,  like  the  Staplers,  an  organ  of  the 


Government ;  and  all  its  members  were  required  to  be 
subjects  of  the  Crown.  Dr.  Gross  states  that  the  soul 
of  this  company,  and  perhaps  its  original  nucleus,  was 
the  Mercers'  Company  of  London,  the  members  of  which 
had  developed  from  general  retail  dealers  into  wholesale 
traders,  and  that  the  minutes  of  both  companies  were 
kept  in  the  same  book  down  to  1526.  The  Adventurers' 
Company  had,  however,  amongst  its  members  in  1601, 
according  to  a  description  of  it  written  by  its  secretary, 
John  Wheeler,  "a  great  number  of  wealthy  and  well- 
experimented  merchants  dwelling  in  divers  great  cities 
and  other  parts  of  the  realm,  to  wit,  London,  York, 
Norwich,  Exeter,  Ipswich,  Newcastle,  and  Hull,"  and 
it  had  the  special  privilege  of  trading  to  and  from  the 
"mart  towns"  between  the  river  Somme,  in  France,  and 
the  Scawe  in  Denmark ;  the  wares  of  non-members  inter- 
meddling in  the  region  reserved  to  the  Company  being 
liable  to  seizure  and  mulcted  in  heavy  penalties.  Dr. 
Gross  has  discovered  that  some  members  of  this  com- 
pany were  resident  in  Bristol,  Salisbury,  and  Devizes, 
but  our  local  chronicles  and  archives  contain  no  reference 
to  the  subject.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  although  the  second 
William  Canynges  carried  on  a  large  business  with 
Denmark  in  the  fifteenth  century,  and,  in  consideration 
of  the  debt  due  to  him  by  its  King,  enjoyed  for  some 
years  a  monopoly  of  trade  with  Iceland  and  Finmark, 
the  merchants  of  Bristol  had  found  a  more  lucrative  field 
of  commerce  in  other  directions.  Hamburgh,  which 
appears  to  have  been  the  chief  centre  of  the  Adventurers' 
transactions,  is  upwards  of  a  thousand  miles  from  the 
Avon,  and  Bristol  ships  were  handicapped  by  the  distance 
to  the  advantage  of  the  eastern  ports.  On  the  other 
hand,  the  chief  marts  of  central  and  southern  France 
were  within  easy  reach,  and  the  biography  of  a  great 


local  benefactor,  Robert  Thorne,  affords  evidence  that 
Bristolians  had  opened  a  large  and  highly  profitable  trade 
with  Spain  and  Portugal  in  the  fifteenth  century,  and 
probably  earlier,  cargoes  of  cloth,  leather,  and  especially 
fish  from  the  northern  seas,  being  readily  exchanged  for 
the  wines  and  fruit  of  the  Peninsula.  The  obscure  story 
of  the  Merchant  Adventurers  of  England,  as  they  were 
ultimately  styled,  has  been  elucidated  after  much 
research  by  another  indefatigable  German  scholar, 
W.  E.  Lingelbach ;  but  his  essay  makes  no  reference 
to  the  commerce  of  Bristol  and  the  West  of  England. 

It  would  appear  that  the  local  Staple  had  become  of 
little  importance  in  Bristol  about  the  middle  of  the 
fifteenth  century,*  and  that  a  necessity  had  arisen  for 
additional  regulations.  In  1459  the  Common  Council 
revived  certain  Ordinances  which  were  alleged  "to  have 
been  in  force  beyond  memory,  but  which  of  late  years 

*  Like  some  other  English  institutions,  however,  it  maintained  a  lingering 
existence,  long  after  its  chief  functions  had  become  obsolete,  by  dint  of  availing  itself 
of  a  subordinate  privilege.  It  became,  in  fact,  an  institution  for  the  recovery  of 
small  debts  and  for  settling  actions  for  trespass,  &c. ;  and  in  order  to  avail  them- 
selves of  its  machinery  a  certain  number  of  persons,  resident  not  merely  in  Bristol, 
but  in  distant  parts  of  the  kingdom,  applied  yearly  for  admission  as  "burgesses  of 
the  Staple."  This  appears  from  an  old  book  in  the  Council  House,  bearing  the 
following  title  (in  Latin) : — "  Pleas  in  the  Court  of  the  Staple  in  the  time  of  John 
Caple,  Mayor,  Nicholas  Brown  and  Roger  Dawes,  Constables,  in  the  first  year  of 
Henry  VIII."  (The  confirmation  by  the  Crown  of  the  officers  of  the  Court  appears 
to  have  been  continued  throughout  that  reign.)  Three  courts  were  nominally  held 
every  week,  but  the  average  number  of  actions  did  not  exceed  four  or  five  per  month. 
Twenty-three  "burgesses"  were  admitted  during  the  year,  some  of  them  living  at 
Bath,  Devizes,  Shepton  Mallet,  and  various  places  in  Somerset.  The  Bristol  appli- 
cants were  of  all  trades.  In  the  following  year  the  Abbot  of  Keynsham,  who  must 
have  been  a  "burgess,"  entered  an  action  against  a  Bristol  brewer,  on  a  debt  of  535. 
A  London  grocer,  also  a  burgess,  was  defendant  in  another  case.  The  celebrated 
merchant,  Robert  Thorne,  was  sued  by  four  or  five  persons  for  small  sums.  Amongst 
the  forty  persons  admitted  as  burgesses  were  an  Oxford  scholar  and  two  London 
traders.  In  1583  the  Corporation  ordained  that  no  strangers  should  thenceforth  be 
admitted.  From  another  book  in  the  Council  House  it  appears  that  the  Staple 
Court  was  afterwards  practically  amalgamated  with  the  Mayor's  Court.  It  bears 
the  title,  in  Latin :  "  Book  of  the  Regulations  and  Orders  made  and  ordained  for  the 
Court  of  the  Mayor  and  Aldermen,  likewise  for  the  Court  of  the  Mayor  and 
Constables  of  the  Staple  of  Bristol,"  and  extends  from  Michaelmas,  1649,  to  the 
same  feast  in  1654.  Several  hundred  actions  were  raised  within  that  period,  but 
only  one  case  is  marked  "Staple  Court,"  and  no  admissions  are  recorded.  The 
Mayor's  Court  was  eventually  absorbed  by  the  Tolzey  Court.  The  last  known 
mention  of  the  Staple  is  in  a  document  dated  agth  September,  1688,  signed  by  (Sir) 
Thomas  Day,  Mayor,  certifying  that  John  Gary,  whose  name  will  recur  later  on,  was 
that  day  admitted  into  the  Liberties  of  the  Staple  of  Bristol.  (Addl.  MSS.  5540 ; 
Brit.  Museum.) 


.  .  .  have  been  negligently  omitted."  They  enacted  that 
when  non-burgesses  brought  cargoes  into  the  port,  the 
goods  were  to  be  forthwith  removed  for  sale  to  "  a  place 
upon  the  Back  called  Spycer's  Hall,  wherein  sometime 
dwelled  a  full  notable  worshipful  merchant  called  Robert 
Sturmy,  whom  God  late  hath  taken  in  his  mercy,"  for  the 
maintenance  of  which  hall  the  sellers  were  to  pay  a  small 
fee  [such  as  one  penny  for  every  whole  cloth].  No 
burgess  was  on  any  pretext  to  suffer  foreigners'  goods  to 
be  shown,  sold  or  lodged  in  his  house,  under  a  penalty  ol 
405.  It  seems  to  have  been  felt,  however,  that  a  more 
comprehensive  scheme  was  required  for  the  reorganisation 
of  the  mercantile  interests  in  the  borough.  Availing 
itself  of  the  powers  conferred  on  the  Common  Council 
by  the  great  charter  of  1373,  to  frame  Ordinances  for 
remedying  defects  that  might  arise  in  the  regulations  and 
customs  of  the  town,  the  Corporation,  in  1467,  drew  up 
the  following  important  Ordinance,  which,  like  the  Ordi- 
nance just  summarised,  was  entered  in  the  Great  Red 
Book  at  the  Council  House.  The  document  may  be  left 
to  speak  for  itself. 

tOllOWCtt  the  Actys  and  Ordinaunce  made  by  William 
Canninge  Mayor  of  Bristowe,  John  Gaywood,  Shereff  of  the  same, 
John  Shipward  the  elder,  William  Coder,  Phillipp  Mede,  John 
Wickham,  William  Spenser,  and  all  the  Common  Counsail  of 
Bristowe,  for  good,  sadde,  and  profittable  Rewle,  of  and  uppon 
fower  certeigne  marchandize  used  in  Bristowe,  that  is  to  saie,  meat 
oyle,  woll  oyle,  yren  and  waxe. 

Anno  Dni  1467  And  in  the  seaventh  yeere  of  the  Raigne  of 
Kinge  Edward  the  fourth. 

3f  ItStC,  that  everie  yere  within  xx  daies  after  Michelmasse,  the 
Mayor  and  Shereffe  for  the  tyme  beinge  shall  do  sompne  the  grete 
Counsaille,  and  by  theire  advyce  and  assente  cheese  a  worschupfull 
man  of  the  saide  Counsaille  that  hath  ben  Maior  or  Shereffe  of  this 
Towne  to  bee  maister  of  the  felaweschipp  of  merchaunts  within  the 


saide  Towne  for  the  yere  folowynge  And  to  cheese  alsoe  other  twoe 
merchants  at  large  for  wardeynes  of  the  said  yeere  And  alsoe  ij 
Byddles  which  shall  occupie  as  Eyddilles  and  Brookers  for  the  said 
yere,  and  to  be  attendaunt  upon  the  said  maister  and  wardeines  atte 
such  tyme  as  they  ben  called  by  theym  or  anie  of  theym  And  the 
saide  Maister  Wardeynes  and  Byddles  to  take  thaire  charge  of  the 
Maior  for  the  time  beinge. 

the  saide  maister  and  ffelawshipp  shall  have  and  occupie 
atte  thaire  wille  the  Chappell  and  the  Draughte  Chameber  apper- 
teyninge  thereto  in  the  Hows  callyd  Spyceris  Halle  uppon  the  Back 
of  Bristowe  There  they  to  have  theire  Commynicacon  of  such 
matters  necessarie  and  appteynynge  to  the  premisses  The  saide 
maister  and  wardeyns  paienge  yeerely  for  the  saide  Halle  twentie 

5tC11t  that  all  merchaunts  of  Bristowe  schall  be  redie  to  come 
and  appeare  before  the  saide  maister  and  felaweschipp  att  suche 
tymes  reasonable  as  they  ben  warned  to  the  common  plaace  to  theym 
assigned  and  ordeyned  for  the  good  expedicon  of  the  saide  Rewle 
and  Ordenaunce  of  and  uppon  the  saide  fower  marchandices  or  eny 
of  theym  uppon  paieng  of  leezinge  of  j  lib.  wax  to  the  Mr  and 
felaweschipp  atte  evy  defaulte  that  they  ben  callyd  if  that  they  bee 
in  towne. 

such  Rewle  and  Ordenaunce  as  schalbe  ordeigned  and 
establyshed  by  the  saide  Maister  and  felaweschipp  in  the  price  of 
syllinge  by  the  Burgeys  to  any  Estraunger  of  eny  of  the  seid  iiij 
marchaundizes  That  hit  bee  kept  and  observed  by  everie  merchaunte 
Burgeis  And  in  noe  wise  to  bee  brooke  uppon  the  payne  of  xxs. 
for  everie  defaulte  without  mytigacon,  halfe  to  the  use  of  the 
felawschipp  and  halfe  to  the  use  of  the  Chameber. 

3-tCIU  that  noe  merchaunte  Burgeys  of  this  Towne  sille  none 
of  the  saide  marchaundizes  to  enny  Estraunger  withynne  the  price 
sette  by  the  maister  and  wardeynes  and  by  the  advyce  of  the  felawe- 
schipp for  the  tyme  beinge  uppon  the  paine  aforesaide  for  everie 

yf  enny  merchaunte  Burgeys  be  in  eany  distresse  whereby 
hee  must  sylle  for  his  necessitie  eany  of  the  saide  iiij  merchaundizes 
That  then  the  saide  marchaunt  Burgeys  come  to  the  saide  Wardeyns 
or  Byddills  or  to  oone  of  thayme  declareing  his  distresse  And 
thaune  if  the  saide  Wardeynes  or  Byddills  or  oone  of  thayme 
kan  not  provide  a  remedie  for  his  necessitie  withynne  iij  daies  next 



after  his  warninge  That  then  yt  shalbe  leefull  to  the  saide  merchaunt 
Burgeis  to  sylle  eny  of  his  suche  merchaundizes  atte  that  tyme 
atte  his  pleasure  without  lett  or  disturbaunce  of  the  saide  Wardeins 
Bydills  or  eany  other. 

It  will  be  seen  that  under  the  pretext  of  regulating  the 
price,  to  strangers,  of  four  articles  of  merchandise,  the 
Corporation  took  into  their  own  hands  the  election  of  a 
Master  and  Wardens  of  a  Fellowship  of  Merchants, 
reserving  the  principal  office  exclusively  to  those  who 
had  served  as  Mayor  or  Sheriff  of  the  town  ;  and  granted 
the  Fellowship  the  use  of  the  chapel  and  principal 
chamber  in  Spicer's  Hall  for  their  customary  meetings. 
The  Fellowship  did  not  comprise  all  the  merchants  in 
the  town,  but  it  was  ordained  that  non-members,  when 
duly  summoned,  should  attend  at  the  Hall,  on  pain  of 
forfeiting  a  pound  of  wax  in  default,  and  they  were 
forbidden  to  sell  the  four  wares  specified  in  the  Ordinance 
below  the  prices  fixed  by  the  Fellowship,  under  a  penalty 
of  2os.  for  every  infraction  of  the  order. 

As  all  the  leading  merchants  were  apparently  members 
of  the  Corporation,  the  Ordinance  enacted  by  the 
Common  Council  was  doubtless  instigated  by  those 
whom  it  chiefly  concerned,  who  thus  secured  the 
obedience  of  the  mercantile  community  generally.  The 
records  afford  no  information  as  to  the  manner  in  which 
admission  was  gained  into  the  Fellowship.  But  it 
undoubtedly  flourished,  and  a  deed  preserved  in  Mer- 
chants' Hall  seems  to  show  that  the  chapel  in  Spicer's 
Hall  was  soon  deemed  inadequate  for  its  requirements. 
From  the  following  copy  of  this  document,  which  from 
its  contractions  is  hardly  intelligible  to  ordinary  readers, 
it  will  be  seen  that  the  Corporation,  oh  March  14,  1493, 
desirous  of  augmenting  divine  worship,  and  of  especially 
honouring  the  most  blessed  Pope  Clement,  the  guide  and 


patron  of  navigation,  granted  to  John  Dreux  (Mayor, 
1496)  and  twelve  other  merchants,  and  to  John  Walsshe 
and  twelve  other  mariners,*  and  their  heirs  and  assigns, 
a  piece  of  land  in  the  Marsh,  adjoining  a  tower  on  the 
Town  Wall  [site  of  City  Library],  203  feet  in  length  and 
60  feet  in  breadth,  together  with  part  of  a  contiguous 
fosse  commonly  called  the  Lawe  Ditch,  to  be  held  of 
the  capital  lords  of  the  fee  under  the  usual  services. 
Rendering  therefor  twelve  pence  sterling  yearly  to  the 
grantors,  payable  at  Midsummer  and  Christmas.  With 
the  intention  and  effect  that  the  said  John  Walsshe  and 
his  brother  mariners  should  thereon  build  and  keep  in 
repair,  at  their  own  expense,  a  chapel  in  honour  of  the 
blessed  St.  Clement.  Provision  is  made  that  if  the  rent 
falls  a  month  in  arrear  the  grantors  shall  have  power  to 
distrain,  and  that  if  the  default  extends  to  a  year,  or 
if  the  Lawe  Ditch  be  not  kept  in  repair,  the  civic 
Chamberlain  shall  re-enter  and  recover  possession.  The 
estate  is  then  warranted  to  all  the  grantees,  and  Thomas 
Hardyng,  Town  Clerk,  is  appointed  to  give  them 
possession  of  it. 

IHttiUCtSlS  et  singulis  Xpi  fidelibz  ad  quos  psens  scriptum 
indentatu  puenit  Johes  Hawkes  Maior  Ville  Bristoll  ac  tota  Coitas 
eiusdem  Ville  saltm  in  dno  sempiterna.  Sciatis  nos  cupientes 
divini  cultus  augmentu  ob  singularem  devocoem  qua  erga  beatissimu 
Clementem  papam  cunctor  nauiganciu  tarn  in  psperis  qm  in  aduersis 
tutorem  et  patronu  spialem  gerimus  et  hemus  dedisse  concessisse  et 
hoc  psenti  scripto  nro  indentato  confirmasse  Johi  Dreux  Johi 
Esterfeld  Johi  Stevyns  Henrico  Dale  Pho  Kyngston  Rico  Vaughan 
Johi  Popley  Rogero  Dawes  Johi  Walsshe  Georgio  Monoux  Willmo 
de  la  Fount  Johi  Vaughan  Johi  Penke  Jun  mcatoribz  Johi  Walsshe 
Henrico  Moyle  Rico  Parker  Thome  Sutton  Waltero  Cooke  Thome 
Harrys  Edwardo  Gibbes  Johi  Graunte  Thome  Reve  Thome  Griffith 

*  A  guild  or  fraternity  of  Bristol  mariners  was  founded  in  1445-6,  for  the 
purpose  of  erecting  a  chapel  apparently  dedicated  to  St.  Clement  and  St.  George, 
and  of  maintaining  a  priest  and  twelve  poor  seamen,  the  latter  to  receive  a  small 
dole  weekly,  contributed  by  the  members.  This  appears  to  have  been  the  origin  of 
the  existing  almshouse.  See  Barrett's  History  of  Bristol,  p.  180. 


Henrico  Hert  Rico  Bray  et  Pho  Wymbler  marinariis  Una  pcellam 
terre  jacentem  in  Marisco  Bristoll  vulgariter  nuncupate  Aven 
Mersshe  in  pochia  sti  Stephi  in  Warda  Omn  Stor  Ville  pdte  conti- 
nentem  in  longitudie  a  via  qua  itur  a  vico  vocato  Merssh  Strete 
eiusdm  Ville  in  Mariscum  pdtm  ex  parte  una  Orientalit  vsus 
quendam  Turrim  nrm  pdtor  Maioris  et  Coitatis  edificatum  in  muro 
nro  vocato  le  Towne  Wall  ibm  Gardino  qz  nup  Rici  Erie  armigi 
contigue  annexu  Ducentos  et  Tres  pedes  assise  et  in  latitudie  a  dto 
muro  vsus  Mariscum  supracltm  sexaginta  pedes  assise  p  totam 
longitudiem  pdtam  una  cu  quodam  fossato  ibm  vulgarit  nuncupate 
le  Law  Dyche  extendente  a  via  pdta  Orientalit  p  totam  longitudiem 
terre  supius  donate  infra  bundas  pdtas  Hend  et  tenend  supradtam 
pcellam  terre  una  cu  fossato  pdto  pfatis  Johi  Dreux  (and  the  remain- 
ing 25  feoffees)  hered  et  assign  eor  imppm  de  capitalibz  dnis  feod  ill 
p~  svic  inde  debit  et  de  iure  consuet  Reddend  inde  annuatim  nobis 
pfatis  Maiori  et  Coitati  et  succ  nris  duodecim  denar  sterlingor  ad  duos 
anni  termios  videlit  ad  festa  Nativitatis  Sti  Johis  Bapte  et  Nattis  dni 
equis  porcioibz  Ad  intencoem  et  effcm  qd  pdti  Johes  Walsshe  mari- 
narius  Henricus  Moyle  Ricus  Parker  Thomas  Sutton  Walterus  Cooke 
Thomas  Harrys  Edwardus  Gibbes  Johes  Graunte  Thomas  Reve 
Thomas  Griffith  Henricus  Hert  Ricus  Bray  et  Phus  Wymbler  hered 
et  assign  sui  quandam  capellam  in  honore  bti  dementis  pape  sup 
dtam  pcellam  terre  supius  eis  concessam  de  novo  edificari  ac  eandm 
capellam  sic  de  novo  constructam  fossatum  qz  pdtm  sufficient  quotiens 
et  quando  necesse  fuit  reparari  emendari  renovari  escurari  et  mundari 
faciant  suis  ppriis  sumptibz  et  expens  Et  si  contingat  pdtm  redditu 
aretro  fore  insolut  in  parte  vel  in  toto  p  unu  mensem  post  aliquod 
festu  festor  solucois  inde  pfix  quo  ut  pfertur  solui  debeat  extunc  bene 
licebit  nobis  pfatis  Maiori  et  Coitati  et  succ  nris  in  pdtam  pcellam 
terre  intrare  et  distringere  districcoes  qz  sic  ibm  capt  licite  asportare 
abduce  fugar  et  penes  nos  retinere  quousqz  de  reddit  pdto  et  ommbz 
inde  arreragiis  si  que  fuint  nobis  plenar  fuit  satisfact  et  psolut  Et  si 
pdtus  reddit  aretro  fuit  in  parte  vel  in  toto  p  unu  anmT  ultra  aliquod 
festu  solucois  inde  plimitat  non  solut  et  petatur  vel  si  pdtm  fossatu 
ruine  minetur  seu  alio  defect  patiatur  et  infra  quarteriu  unius  anni 
px  sequen  post  monicoem  inde  p  Camariu  die  Ville  Bristoll  p 
tempore  existen  pfatis  Johi  Walsshe  marinario  (and  the  12  other 
sailors  who,  with  him,  were  to  rebuild  the  chapel)  hered  vel  assign 
suis  aut  eor  alicui  ftam  non  reparet  emendet  et  sufficient  escufet  qd 
extunc  bene  licebit  nobis  dtis  Maiori  et  Coitati  et  succ  nris  in 
dtam  pcellam  terre  supius  concessam  reintrare  et  111  ut  in  pristino 
statu  nro  rehere  retinere  et  repossidere  dtos  qz  Johem  Dreux  (and 


the  remainingj25  feoffees)  hered  et  assign"  suos  inde  totalit  expeller 
et  ammover  psentibz  donacoe  concessioe  et  confirmacoe  inde  non 
obstant  Et  nos  vero  pnolati  Maior  et  CoTtas  et  succ  nri  totam 
supdtam  pcella  terr  una  cu  fossato  pdto  pnoiatis  Johi  Dreux  (and  the 
remaining  25  feoffees)  hered  et  assign  eor  imppm  ad  intencoem 
supdtam  ac  sub  modo  et  forma  pdtis  contra  oes  gentes  warantiz- 
abimus  et  defendemus  p  psentes  Et  ulterius  sciatis  nos  pfatos 
Maiorem  et^Coitatem  fecisse  et  p  psentes  constituisse  dilecu 
Cpnsiliariu  nrm  Thoma  Hardyng  Coern  Clicum  Ville  p~dte  attorn 
nrm  ad  intrand  et  possessione  capiend  p  nobis  et  noibz  nris  de  et  in 
pdta  pcella  terr  cu  suis  ptin  pdtis  Ac  post  possessione  sic  inde  capt 
et  hit  et  plenaria  seiam  inde  pfatis  Johi  Dreux  (and  the  remaining  25 
feoffees)  aut  attorn  suis  deliband  scdm  vim  forma  et  effecm  huius 
psentis  scripti  nri  indentati  Rat  et  grat  hent  et  hitur  totu  ac  quicquid 
dtus  attorn  nost  noie  nro  fecit  in  pmissis.  In  cuius  rei  testimoniu  uni 
parti  huius  psentis  scripti  nri  indentati  penes  pfatos  Johem  Dreux 
(and  the  remaining  25  feoffees)  remanen  nos  pfati  Maior  et  CoTtas 
sigillu  nrm  coe  apposuimus  Alti  vero  parti  eiusdm  scripti  indentati 
penes  nos  pfatos  Maiorem  et  Coitatem  residen  dti  Johes  Dreux 
(and  the  remaining  25  feoffees)  sigilla  sua  apposuerunt  Dto 
Johe  Hawkesjunc  Maiore  Ville  pdte  Johe  Dreux  tune  Vic  Johe 
Popley  et  Rogo  Dawes  tune  Balliuis  eiusdm  Ville  Hijs  testibz 
Willmo  Spenser  Roberto  Straunge  Thoma  Spycer  Waltero 
Grymsted  Johe  Jay  et  aliis  Dat  quartodecimo  die  Mensis  Martii 
anno  regni  regis  Henrici  septimi  post  conqm  Anglic  octavo. 

It  is  scarcely  necessary  to  state  that  the  above  plot  of 
ground  is  now  the  site  of  Merchants'  Hall  and  of  the 
adjoining  Almshouse  of  the  Society,  and  it  may  be  as 
well  to  continue  its  subsequent  history  in  this  place. 
When  the  chantry  chapels  were  seized  by  the  Crown  in 
the  reign  of  Edward  the  Sixth,  it  was  apparently  believed 
that  the  terms  of  the  corporate  conveyance  would  enable 
the  grantors  to  resist  spoliation  by  exerting  their  right  of 
re-entry.  No  doubt  by  a  concerted  arrangement,  the 
reserved  quit-rent  fell  in  arrear,  and  the  City  Chamberlain 
gravely  appended  to  his  accounts  : — 

I  ask  allowance  for  one  year's  rent  which  was  wont  to  be 
paid  by  the  proctors  of  St.  Clement's  Chapel     xiuf. 


And  doubtless  an  attempt  was  made  to  recover  possession. 
The  unscrupulous  Government,  however,  brushed  aside 
obstacles  of  this  kind.  By  the  letter  of  the  law  under 
which  they  were  proceeding,  the  chapel  ought  to  have 
been  exempt  from  seizure,  for  the  Act  dissolving  the 
chantries  expressly  provided  that  its  powers  were  not 
to  be  prejudicial  to  the  corporation  of  any  borough  or 
to  the  estates  belonging  to  it.  Nevertheless,  on  the  5th 
December,  1550,  the  chapel  and  land,  and  some  other 
fragments  of  church  property,  were  granted  by  letters 
patent  to  Sir  Ralph  Sadleir,  one  of  the  most  voracious 
courtiers  of  the  age,  and  to  a  man  named  Winnington. 
It  seems  probable  that  the  Corporation  soon  came  to  an 
agreement  with  the  grantees,  for  the  following  payments 
occur  in  the  civic  accounts  for  September,  1551  : — 

Paid  2  labourers  2  days  a  piece  to  take  down  the  altar 
in  the  Chapel  of  the  Marsh  iis.  v'md. 

Paid  for  hauling  16  draughts  of  rubble  from  there     ...  xvid. 

Paid  a  carpenter  for  mending  the  forms  and  table 
there,  and  for  a  key  for  the  chapel  door xviiid. 

Two  years  later,  by  a  deed  dated  loth  October,  1553, 
Sadleir  and  Winnington,  in  consideration  of  £10,  granted 
the  chapel  and  land,  together  with  a  house  in  Fisher 
Lane  formerly  belonging  to  Tintern  Abbey,  and  some 
land  on  St.  Michael's  Hill  once  possessed  by  the  White 
Friars,  to  Edward  Prynn,  then  acting  as  first  Master  of 
the  Merchant  Venturers'  Society.  On  October  loth, 
1561,  Erasmus,  heir  of  Edward  Prynn,  in  consideration 
of  £30,  granted  the  estate,  excepting  the  land  at  St. 
Michael's  Hill,  to  Thomas  Aldworth  and  Thomas 
Symonds.  As  the  deed  of  conveyance,  after  describing 
the  chapel,  recites  that  the  almshouse  "  called  St. 
Clement's  Almshouse"  had  then  been  built,  the  property 
had  clearly  been  in  the  Society's  possession  for  some  time. 


Finally,  a  few  weeks  afterwards,  November  aoth,  1561, 
Aldworth  and  Symonds  conveyed  the  property  to  William 
Popwell  and  several  others,  trustees  of  the  Merchants' 
Society,  declaring  it  to  be  held  "  to  the  use  of  the  poor 
and  indigent  persons  inhabiting  the  said  almshouse." 
The  quit-rent  was  paid  yearly  to  the  Corporation  until 
1900,  when  it  was  redeemed. 

Returning  to  the  measures  taken  from  time  to  time 
by  the  Corporation  for  the  regulation  of  trade,  it  may  be 
briefly  stated  that  in  1477  on  the  "piteous  complaining" 
of  the  merchant  adventurers,  dyers,  and  sellers  of  the 
town,  who  alleged  that  through  the  unnumberable  great 
hurts  arising  from  the  entertaining  of  foreigners  and  the 
sinister  colouring  of  their  goods,  the  most  chief,  noblest, 
and  ponderoust  merchandise  of  woad  from  Bordeaux  and 
Bayonne,*  which  of  old  time  sustained  the  prosperous 
felicity  of  the  town,  had  gone  to  decay,  the  Common 
Council  passed  an  ordinance  rigorously  forbidding  dyers 
from  buying  or  using  any  woad  except  that  imported  by 
burgesses.  In  1481,  again,  it  was  ordained  that  no 
burgess  should  give  more  than  £2  135.  4^.  per  ton  for  iron 
brought  to  the  port  by  strangers,  and  fines  were  set  for 
exceeding  that  price.  It  seems  to  have  been  felt, 
however,  that  another  re-organisation  was  needful,  and 
the  Fellowship  of  Merchants  established  in  1467  had 
existed  only  thirty-three  years  when  its  founders,  in 
November,  1500,  alleging  their  power  to  make  new 

*  The  local  woad  trade  with  Southern  France  is  stated  by  the  editors  of  the 
Bayonne  Archives  (a  copy  of  which  is  in  the  Museum  and  Library)  to  have  begun  in 
the  fourteenth  century,  and  to  have  been  conducted  in  a  somewhat  peculiar  manner. 
The  Bayonne  registers  show  that  contracts  for  sales  were  made  with  English  agents 
living  in  that  town,  acting  for  the  Bristol  merchants,  but  that  the  definitive  price  was 
to  be  fixed,  on  the  arrival  of  the  cargoes  here,  by  sworn  experts,  whose  valuations 
were  to  be  solemnly  certified  to  the  Mayors  of  Bayonne  or  Bordeaux  by  the  Mayor 
of  Bristol.  Abundant  corroboration  of  this  statement  is  to  be  found  in  the  Great  Red 
Booh  at  the  Council  House,  which  contains  copies  of  several  of  those  certificates. 
The  cargoes  varied  from  14  up  to  65  pipes.  In  1499  the  Mayor  and  Sheriff  of  Bristol 
sent  a  certificate  to  the  authorities  at  Bayonne,  accrediting  its  bearer,  Thomas 
Badcok,  a  Bristol  merchant  about  to  engage  in  commerce  with  Spain,  and  requesting 
that  he  might  have  liberty  to  move  about  without  molestation,  as  would  be  permitted 
here  to  any  merchant  of  Bayonne. 


ordinances  granted  by  Henry  the  Seventh's  charter  of 
1499,  resolved  on  a  total  reconstruction,  and  drew  up  the 
following  portentous  document,  which  must  have  been 
the  product  of  prolonged  deliberations.  Attention  may 
be  directed  to  a  few  of  its  leading  features.  A  practice, 
it  is  alleged,  had  grown  up  by  which  certain  burgesses 
"  coloured"  the  wares  of  strangers  and  foreigners — that 
is,  took  possession  of  them  and  sold  them,  pretending  to 
be  the  owners,  but  really  acting  as  secret  agents  of  those 
to  whom  they  belonged.  For  the  suppression  of  this 
crafty  practice,  tending  to  the  "utter  undoing"  of  the 
local  merchants,  and  to  the  "great  hurt  of  the  common- 
weal," the  Council  ordain  that  a  Company  or  Fellowship 
of  Merchants,  separate  and  distinct  from  all  the  craft 
companies,  shall  be  established  in  Bristol  for  evermore, 
John  Penke  being  appointed  first  Master,  and  David 
Leyson  and  John  Stokes  first  Wardens,  who  are  to  hold 
office  "under  Master  Mayor"  until  the  following  Michael- 
mas. These  officers  and  their  successors,  who  are  to  be 
chosen  yearly  by  the  Company,  are  to  assemble  twice  a 
week  in  the  Council  House,  with  power  to  summon  as 
many  of  the  Fellowship  as  they  see  fit  for  the  transaction 
of  business  and  the  settlement  of  disputes,  the  members 
being  forbidden  to  resort  to  any  temporal  or  spiritual 
court  in  respect  of  controversies  between  themselves.  No 
man,  except  the  Company's  two  beadles,  shall  act  as  a 
broker  of  merchandise  in  Bristol,  on  pain  of  forfeiting 
405.  for  each  transaction.  No  member  of  the  Fellowship 
shall  receive  the  goods  of  any  non-member,  with  the  intent 
of  exporting  them  to  the  profit  of  such  non-member, 
neither  shall  he  import  non-members'  goods  into  Bristol, 
on  pain  in  either  case  of  forfeiting  one-sixth  of  the  value 
of  the  wares  on  a  first  offence,  and  one-third  the  value  on 
a  second.  No  burgess  of  Bristol  shall  freight  or  lade 


any  ship  either  at  home  or  abroad,  Ireland  and  Iceland 
excepted,  unless  he  have  the  license  of  the  Company ; 
offenders  to  be  fined  £20,  without  any  forgiveness ;  but 
an  exception  is  made  in  favour  of  small  parcels  of  foreign 
goods,  the  owners  of  which  are  unable  to  freight  inde- 
pendently. If  a  non-member  presume  to  freight  a  ship 
no  member  shall  put  goods  on  board,  on  pain  of  a  fine 
of  2os.  for  each  ton.  After  some  less  interesting  clauses, 
we  arrive  at  what  may  be  considered  as  the  backbone  of 
the  document.  It  is  enacted  that  when  any  ship  laden 
with  foreign  merchandise,  the  property  of  a  non-burgess 
or  foreigner,  shall  arrive  at  the  Quay,  the  Fellowship  shall 
assemble  and  determine  what  shall  be  done  on  behalf  of 
the  entire  body — in  plain  words,  shall  combine  in  fixing 
the  prices  to  be  offered.  It  is  further  provided  that  no 
other  burgess  of  the  town  shall  presume  to  purchase, 
handle,  or  take  charge  of  such  goods  without  the  previous 
assent  of  the  Company,  on  pain  of  forfeiting  one-sixth  of 
the  value  of  all  the  wares  that  he  may  buy  !  Another 
striking  decree  follows  soon  afterwards,  forbidding  every 
burgess  in  the  city  from  purchasing  foreign  goods  except 
in  Spicer's  Hall,  the  place  fixed  for  depositing  them ;  and 
no  one  is  permitted  to  sell  or  to  offer  his  own  foreign 
goods  to  a  non-member  of  the  Company  except  in  his 
own  freehold  or  leasehold  house  or  cellars,  the  penalty  for 
an  infraction  of  these  orders  being  again  one-sixth  of  the 
value  of  the  wares  (a  moiety  of  this  fine  was  to  be  paid 
to  the  Corporation).  Any  one  appealing  to  the  Mayor 
to  remit  these  impositions,  or  any  part  of  them,  was  to  be 
fined  6s.  Sd.  For  the  general  support  of  the  Company 
they  were  granted  the  power  of  levying  a  duty  of  a  half- 
penny per  ton  on  salt  and  of  one  penny  per  ton  on  all 
other  goods  brought  by  ships.  The  ordinances  conclude 
with  a  Latin  formula  requiring  them  to  be  inviolably 


observed,  but  reserving  to  the  Common  Council  the  right 
of  revoking,  amending,  or  augmenting  them  when  any 
such  acts  might  seem  conducive  to  the  honour  or  advan- 
tage of  the  citizens,  or  to  the  better  government  of  the 
Merchants'  Company. 

bCCH  the  Actes  &  ordenaunces  made  ordeyned  &  estab- 
lisshed  in  the  Counsailhous  called  the  Inner  Chambre  of  the  Guyhald 
of  Bristowe  the  Tuesday  the  xth  day  of  the  moneth  of  Novemb1  in 
the  xvith  yere  of  the  reigne  of  oure  sovreyn  lord  Kinge  Henry  the 
vii"1  [1500]  by  Richard  Vaughan  than  maire  of  the  said  Toun 
Robert  Straunge  late  maire  of  the  same  John  Hawkes  John  Eastfeld 
John  Penke  John  Dreux  and  Henry  Dale  Aldermen  William  Towket 
Philip  Ryngstone  and  Nicholas  Brown  late  maire  Hugh  Elyot  and 
John  Bateyn  Shirefs  Hugh  Johnes  John  Jay  Philip  Grene  William 
Spicer  Thomas  ap  Howell  John  Taillour  Robert  Forthey  John  Fyster 
David  Philip  John  Popley  William  Esteby  John  Rowland  David 
Leyson  Thomas  Vaughan  John  Elyot  William  Lane  John  Vaughan 
Richard  Hoby  Waltier  Rys  Thomas  Permiter  and  Thomas  Snyg 
their  brethern  burgeises  elected  of  the  comon  counsaill  of  the  forsaid 
Toun  than  there  beyng  present  in  a  comon  counsaill  than  there 
holden  for  reformacion  of  dyvers  colourable  and  crafty  dealyng  of 
certyn  burgeises  of  the  said  Toun  that  from  day  to  day  and  yere  unto 
yere  coloure  straungiers  and  Foreyns  goodes  and  marchaundises  and 
buy  and  sell  the  same  not  oonly  to  the  use  and  greate  pfite  of  the  said 
Foreyns  and  straungiers  contrary  to  the  othes  of  the  forsaid  burgeises 
but  also  to  theire  utter  undoyng  and  to  the  greate  hurt  of  the  comon 
Wele  of  the  said  Toun,  the  which  actes  and  ordenaunces  hereaft 
folowen  that  is  to  say  : 

3fitt5t  the  said  Maire  Aldermen  Shirefs  and  their  said  brethern  of 
the  said  comon  counsaill  have  ordeyned  and  establisshed  in  the  said 
comon  Counsaill  and  by  Auctorite  of  the  same  that  from  hensfurth 
forevmore  shalbe  in  and  of  the  said  Toun  of  Bristowe  a  company  or 
felowship  of  marchauntes  sepate  and  distincte  from  evy  other 
companyes  of  handecraftymen. 

HlSO  the  forsaid  maire  Aldermen  Shirefs  and  their  said  brethern 
have  elected  chosen  and  named  the  said  John  Penke  marchaunt  to  be 
maister  David  Leyson  and  John  Stokes  marchaunts  to  be  Wardeyns 
to  rule  and  govne  under  the  forsaid  maister  maire  all  the  said 
company  and  felowship  of  mchaunts  from  the  said  xth  day  of  the 
forsaid  moneth  of  Novemb*  unto  the  feste  of  Seynt  Michaell 
tharchaungell  than  next  suying. 


HlSO  they  have  elected  chosen  and  named  George  Meke  and 
William  Gifford  of  Bristowe  mchaunts  to  be  as  well  bidelx  as 
Broggours  [brokers]  of  the  said  occupacion  of  marchauntes  unto  the 
said  fest  of  Seint  Michaell  to  do  and  obey  in  all  things  all  the 
commaundments  of  the  said  Maister  and  Wardeyns  resonable  to  be 
don  and  obeid  for  the  Wele  of  the  said  Company  of  Marchaunts. 

HlSO  yt  ys  ordeyned  and  establisshed  thaHromhensfurth  forever 
the  said  maister  and  wardeyns  shull  have  fre  libtee  twyse  in  evy  weke 
that  is  to  say  on  tuesday  and  Thursday  to  assemble  in  the  said 
Counsaill  hous  and  by  their  said  bidells  to  cause  to  com  thider  and 
appere  before  theym  there  as  many  of  the  said  company  nowe 
beyng  or  that  herafter  shall  be  as  shall  pleas  theym  there  to  have 
comynicacion  togeders  as  well  of  feats  of  marchaundises  and  other 
busengnes  concernyng  the  same  as  to  here  complaynts  and  sette 
direccions  accordyng  to  reason  and  good  conscience  bitwene  ptees  of 
the  said  company  beyng  atte  variaunce  or  debate,  or  to  send  the  said 
pties  with  their  causes  as  they  have  founds  theym  certifyed  unto  the 
maire  of  Bristowe  for  the  tyme  beyng  by  his  maistership  further  to 
be  ordred  or  directed  as  the  case  rightfully  shall  requyre. 

Hltb  also  that  no  psone  of  the  said  feliship  atte  any  tyme  herafter 
vex  trouble  or  sue  any  other  of  theym  in  any  Courte  spirituell  or 
temporell  bifore  that  the  matier  hangyng  in  variaunce  bitwen  the 
pties  be  shewed  to  oon  of  the  said  Maister  and  Wardeyns  upon 
peyn  to  pay  for  a  fyne  for  evy  tyme  he  shall  do  contrary  to  this 
ordenaunce  xxs.  to  be  levied  of  his  goodes  to  the  use  of  the  said 
feliship  of  marchauntes. 

H100  yt  is  ordeyned  establisshed  and  enacted  by  the  said  Maire 
Aldremen  Shirefs  and  comon  Counsaill  for  the  Wele  not  oonly  of 
the  said  marchaunts  adventurers  but  also  of  all  other  burgeises  of 
the  said  Toun  that  fromhensfurth  no  marchaunt  nor  other  Burgeis 
of  the  same  Toun  shall  cary  or  do  to  be  caryed  ne  send  or  do  to  be 
sent  or  delyred  to  any  pson  or  psones  dwellyng  oute  of  the  said  Toun 
and  Fraunchise  of  Bristowe  any  wyne  wax  woode  yron  or  other 
marchaundise  onlesse  that  all  the  same  mchaundise  be  firste  playnly 
and  w*oute  any  fraude  coloure  or  male  engyne  solde  by  the  said 
Burgeis  to  hym  or  theym  to  whom  they  so  shuld  be  caryed  or  sent  or 
to  his  or  theire  Servauntes  or  Attorneys. 

HlSO  that  immediatly  upon  evy  such  sale  of  any  of  the  said 
marchaundises  the  seller  thereof  shall  come  or  send  his  svnt  untothe 
Shiriefs  of  Bristowe  for  the  tyme  beyng  and  shewe  unto  theyme  the 
qualite  and  quantitee  of  the  same  mchaundise  so  solde  and  to  be 
caryed  sent  or  delyved  And  the  name  or  names  of  the  Citie  or 
Burgh  Toun  Hamelette  or  place  where  the  same  psone  or  psones 


dwell  to  thentent  that  the  said  Shirefs  shull  thereby  knowe  howe  and 
by  whom  to  be  answered  of  toll  murage  pavage  Kayage  Kelage  and 
all  custumes  due  unto  theym  of  or  for  the  same  mchaundises. 

B^OVtoCfc  allwey  that  it  be  lefull  to  evy  Burgeis  of  the  said 
feliship  of  mchaunts  to  sende  or  do  to  be  caryed  to  his  custumers 
dwellyng  oute  of  the  said  Toun  of  Bristowe  all  such  mchaundises  as 
the  same  customers  shall  send  unto  hym  for  by  their  Ires  or  by  their 
trusty  servaunts  or  frendes  Certifying  nevthelesse  evy  such  Burgeis 
unto  the  said  Shirefs  for  the  tyme  beyng  the  qualitee  and  quantitee 
of  all  the  Same  mchaundises  and  the  names  of  the  Townes  or  places 
where  the  said  customers  dwell  And  also  paying  unto  the  same 
Shirefs  toll  and  allman  customes  and  other  dutees  due  unto  theym  for 
the  same  proX>tt>C£>  also  that  it  shall  be  lefull  to  evy  of  the  said 
Burgeises  to  send  and  do  to  be  caryed  to  london  allman  of  mchaundises 
there  to  be  solde  this  psent  acte  and  ordinaunce  notwithstandyng. 

HlSO  yt  is  ordeyned  establisshed  and  enacted  that  yf  eny  Burgeis 
of  the  said  Toun  of  Bristowe  do  in  any  thynge  contrary  to  this 
ordinaunce  than  he  shall  pay  unto  the  said  maister  and  wardeyns  to 
thuse  of  the  said  feliship  of  mchaunts  for  a  fyne  iijs.  iiijd.  of  evy  xxs. 
of  the  value  of  all  the  mchaundises  caried  sent  or  delyved  contrary 
to  this  ordinuance. 

HlSO  that  the  said  maister  wardeyns  and  bidelx  upon  reasonable 
warnyng  to  theym  to  be  given  on  the  behalve  of  the  said  maire  Alder- 
men and  Shirefs  shull  appere  in  their  ppre  psones  before  the  said 
maire  Aldermen  and  Shirefs  in  the  said  Guyhald  And  there  be  sworn 
upon  the  holy  Evangelistes  that  is  to  say  the  said  Maister  to  do  and 
execute  by  his  power  all  that  pteyneth  or  shall  pteyn  to  the  office  of 
maister  of  the  said  feliship  And  the  forsaid  Wardeyns  to  do  that 
longeth  or  shalbe  long  to  theire  offices  of  maisters  (sic)  And  the 
forsaid  bidelx  to  do  all  that  belongeth  to  thoffices  as  well  of  Bidelx 
as  of  Brocours  to  dryve  bargayns  truly  and  indifferently  bitween 
marchaunt  and  marchaunt  withoute  fraude  or  male  engyne. 

Hilt)  that  yerly  fromhensfurth  forevmore  the  maister  wardeyns 
and  company  of  marchauntes  of  Bristowe  for  the  tyme  beying  w'in 
xiiij  dayes  next  ensuying  aft  the  fest  of  Seint  Michaell  tharchaungell 
shall  assemble  togiders  in  the  said  Counsaill  house  And  there  electe 
chose  and  name  of  theym  self  oone  maister  two  wardeyns  and  two 
Bidelx  or  broggours  for  the  said  Company,  to  occupye  for  the  yere 
than  next  suyng  And  the  said  maister  Wardeyns  and  bidelx  so 
elected  chosen  and  named  they  shull  psent  before  the  maire  Aldermen 
and  Shirefs  of  the  said  Town  for  the  tyme  beyng  in  the  said  Guyhald 
within  iiij  dayes  next  after  the  said  eleccion  and  nominacon  there  to 
be  sworn  in  man  and  fourme  affore  reherced  upon  peyn  of  xli.  to  be 


paid  unto  the  Chamberleyn  of  Bristowe  for  the  tyme  beying  to  thuse 
of  the  maire  and  comalte  of  the  same  Town  for  any  default  to  be 
made  in  that  behalve  to  evy  which  penalite  of  xli  so  to  be  paid  evy 
pson  of  the  said  company  so  makynge  defaulte  shalbe  contributary  of 
his  ppre  goodes  after  his  habilite  and  power  to  be  rated  by  the 
discretions  of  the  maire  and  Alderman  of  Bristowe  for  the  tyme 
beying  HlSO  that  noo  psone  other  than  the  said  George  Meke  and 
William  Gifford  or  such  other  as  the  maister  wardeyns  and  Company 
of  marchaunts  of  the  said  Town  for  the  tyme  beyng  shall  assigne  and 
name  shall  take  upon  hym  to  be  a  comon  Broggour  in  mchaundises 
bitwene  ptie  and  ptle  within  the  said  Town  or  suburbes  of  the  same 
upon  payn  of  xls.  for  evy  bargayn  that  he  so  shall  make  To  be  levied 
of  his  goodes,  the  oone  half  thereof  to  thuse  of  the  said  Chamber 
And  the  other  half  thereof  to  the  contribucion  of  the  said  feliship  of 

HlSO  that  either  of  the  said  George  Meke  and  William  Gifford 
and  evy  other  Broggour  that  hereaft  shalbe  elected  named  and 
chosen  in  to  the  said  company  of  marchauntes  shall  take  for  his 
labour  as  well  in  that  occupacion  as  in  the  said  office  of  Bidelx 
fees  hereaft  followyng  that  is  to  say  ijd.  for  evy  xxs.  of  the  hoole 
value  of  all  the  marchaundises  whereupon  eny  bargayn  shalbe 
made  or  dryven  by  any  of  the  said  Broggours  bitwene  ptie  and  ptie 
that  is  to  wete  the  oone  peny  thereof  of  the  byer  and  the  other  peny 
thereof  of  the  seller  HlSO  yf  it  happen  any  of  the  said  Maister 
Wardeyns  or  bidells  to  decease  or  to  be  amoved  from  his  saide  office 
within  a  yere  next  ensuyng  after  he  is  or  shalbe  pfected  or  created 
Maister  wardeyn  or  Bidell  of  the  said  feliship  of  mchauntes  That 
then  the  maire  and  Aldermen  of  Bristowe  for  the  tyme  beyng  within 
x  days  next  then  ensuyng  shall  chose  make  and  create  an  other  pson 
hable  of  the  said  feliship  to  be  in  the  rome  or  place  of  hym  so 
deceased  or  amoved  the  which  so  elected  pfected  and  made  shall 
make  before  the  said  maire  and  Aldermen  his  othe  truly  to  execute 
his  office  for  the  residue  of  the  same  yere  in  the  which  he  so  shalbe 
elected  and  pfected. 

HlSO  it  is  ordeyned  and  establisshed  that  evy  psone  of  the  said 
felouship  shall  appere  in  his  ppre  psone  before  the  said  maister  and 
wardeyns  in  their  forsaid  place  of  assemble  asoft  and  whan  as  he 
shall  thereto  be  warned  by  the  said  Bidells  or  any  of  theym  withoute 
he  shew  cause  resonable  unto  the  said  maister  and  wardeyns  why  he 
may  not  so  appere  before  theym  upon  payn  of  forfaiture  of  vjd.  atte 
evy  time  he  doth  contrary  to  this  ordinaunce  to  be  levied  of  his 
goodes  to  the  contribucion  of  the  said  felouship. 


HlSO  that  no  marchaunt  of  the  said  feliship  ne  no  son  svnt  or 
appntice  of  any  of  the  said  marchauntes  shall  atte  any  tyme  heraft 
receyve  atte  or  in  the  porte  of  Bristowe  afforsaid  into  his  kepyng  any 
cloth  or  other  goodes  or  mchaundises  of  any  psone  not  beyng 
admytted  a  felowe  of  the  said  company  of  mchaunts  to  thentent  to 
sell  carry  or  delyv  the  same  cloth  goodes  or  marchaundises  in  to  or 
atte  any  porte  cryke  or  place  beyonde  see  to  the  use  or  pfit  of  the 
same  psone  or  of  any  other  not  beyng  felowe  of  the  said  company  of 
mchaunts  nor  bey  nor  receyve  beyonde  see  for  any  psone  not  beyng 
felowe  of  the  said  company  of  marchaunts  any  wares  or  mchaundises 
to  be  conveyed  fromthens  to  the  said  porte  of  Bristowe  or  to  any 
other  porte  haven  cryke  or  place  within  the  Ryver  of  Severn  upon 
payn  to  pay  atte  first  tyme  he  shall  do  contrary  to  this  ordenaunce 
of  evy  xxs.  of  the  hoole  value  of  marchaundise  for  the  which  he  so 
shalbe  attorney  iijs.  iiij^.  And  atte  second  tyme  vjs.  viijW.  And 
on  that  that  the  ffader  of  evy  such  son  the  son  beyng  in  his  svyce 
and  the  maister  of  evy  servnt  and  appntice  so  beyng  attorney  for  any 
psons  not  being  of  the  said  company  of  marchauntes  in  any  two 
viages  contrary  unto  this  ordenaunce  to  leese  [lose]  his  libtie  that  he 
than  hath  in  the  said  toun  and  to  be  discomoned  and  put  therfrom 

HlSO  tbHt  no  marchaunt  of  the  said  town  of  Bristowe  nor  other 
burgeis  of  the  same  Town  nor  noo  son  servaunt  or  Appntice  of  any 
of  theym  shall  from  hencefurth  frette  or  cause  to  be  fretted  lade  or  do 
to  be  laden  on  thisside  the  See  or  beyont  see  any  Ship  balynger 
kervaill  barge  or  other  vessail  of  Englond  Wales  Irlond  Fraunce 
Briteyn  Spayne  Portingale  or  of  any  other  countrey  porte  or  place 
with  any  goodes  or  mchaundises  withoute  the  will  avise  assent  and 
license  of  the  said  maister  and  wardeyns  or  withoute  thassent  of  the 
more  pte  of  the  said  company  of  mchaunts  upon  payn  of  fforfaiture  of 
xx li.  for  evy  ship  balynger  kervaill  Barge  or  other  vessaill  frette  or 
lade  contrary  to  this  ordenaunce  to  be  paid  to  the  contribucion  of 
the  said  company  of  mchaunts  withoute  any  pardon  or  forgifnesse 
iPtOViOCfc  alwey  that  evy  marchaunt  of  the  same  company  his  svnt 
or  Appntice  beyng  beyonde  see  lakkyng  company  there  of  the  said 
feliship  of  mchaunts  to  lade  hooly  togeders  oon  Ship  with  mchaundises 
in  to  Englond  may  lade  his  goodes  and  mchaundises  in  any  Ship  that 
shall  pleas  hym  So  always  that  noo  Ship  nor  vessaill  of  the  said 
porte  of  Bristowe  beyng  hable  to  serve  hym  sufficiently  for  that 
season  be  in  the  porte  cryke  or  place  beyond  see  or  nygh  theraboute 
where  he  shall  so  seke  frett  redy  to  serve  hym  in  that  viage  atte  as 
good  chepe  frette  as  any  straunger  there  shall  do.  {ptOViOCE)  also 
that  evy  marchaunt  of  the  said  felouship  and  evy  other  burgeis  of 


the  said  Town  of  Bristowe  shalbe  atte  his  libtee  to  frette  any  ship 
or  shippes  Picardes  and  other  vessailles  in  to  Irlond  and  Islond  asoft 
and  whan  as  it  shall  pleas  hymn. 

HlSO  it  is  ordeyned  and  establisshed  that  if  any  psone  not  beyng 
of  the  said  feliship  of  marchaunts  take  upon  hym  heraft  to  frette  or 
lade  on  thisside  the  See  or  beyonde  see  any  ship  or  other  vessaill 
with  any  goodes  or  mchaundises  that  then  no  psone  of  the  said 
feliship  of  marchantes  shall  take  any  frett  in  the  same  ship  or  vessaill 
wherin  he  so  shall  lade  or  take  frett  upon  payn  to  pay  xxs.  for  evy  ton 
and  ton  lode  so  laden  with  any  foreyn  or  straunger  to  be  applyed  to 
the  contribucions  of  the  said  company  of  mchaunts  asofte  and  whan 
as  such  cuase  shall  happen  withoute  any  pardon  or  forgevenesse. 

HlSO  that  fromhensforwarde  evy  Average  that  shalbe  leyd  of 
or  for  any  ship  or  other  vessaill  fretted  and  to  be  fretted  by  any 
psone  or  psones  of  the  said  felouship  shall  be  leyd  in  the  said  Toun 
of  Bristowe  in  the  psence  of  the  maister  and  wardeyns  of  the  said 
felouship  for  the  tyme  beyng  or  of  oone  of  theym  yf  any  of  theym 
woll  be  psent  atte  the  leying  therof  under  payn  of  xls.  for  evy  average 
to  be  leyd  contrary  to  this  ordynaunce  To  be  paid  by  the  marchaunts 
that  shall  ley  or  cast  or  be  psent  atte  leying  or  castyng  of  evy  such 
avage  to  thuse  and  pfite  of  the  forsaid  maister  wardeyns  and  feliship 
of  mchaunts  And  that  to  the  payment  of  evy  such  penaltie  of  xls. 
evy  of  the  mchaunts  that  shall  ley  or  be  psent  atte  leying  or  castying 
of  evy  such  average  shull  be  contributary  in  man  and  fourme  as  by 
the  said  maister  and  wardeyns  of  the  forsaid  felouship  of  mchaunts 
for  the  tyme  beyng  shalbe  reasonably  adiuged  And  to  thentent  that 
noon  Average  of  or  for  any  ship  or  vessaill  shall  heraft.  be  leyde 
within  the  said  Toun  but  that  the  said  maister  or  wardeyns  or  oon  of 
theym  shalbe  psent  atte  leying  of  evy  such  Average  Therfor  it  is 
ordeyned  and  establisshed  by  the  said  maire  Aldermen  Shirefs  and 
their  brethern  of  the  said  Comon  Counsaill  that  the  Burser  of  evy 
ship  and  vessaill  of  or  for  the  which  any  such  Average  shall  be  leyd 
shall  come  unto  the  maister  and  wardeyns  of  the  said  company  of 
Marchaunts  for  the  tyme  beyng  or  to  oon  of  theym  yf  any  of  theym 
may  then  be  found  within  the  said  Toun  of  Bristowe  or  suburbes  of 
the  same  and  ther  gyf  unto  hym  or  theym  notice  of  the  tyme  and 
place  where  and  whan  evy  such  Average  shall  be  leyd  And  that  by 
a  day  or  two  dayes  next  before  the  tyme  of  leying  of  the  same 
average  under  payn  of  vjs.  viij^.  to  be  paid  by  evy  Burser  found  in 
defalt  in  that  behalf  asoften  and  whan  as  he  shall  offend  contrary 
unto  this  ordenaunce  to  the  contribucions  of  the  said  company  of 

HlSO  that  at  evy  such  Average  that  heraft  shalbe  leid  upon  evy 


ton  and  ton  lode  of  mchaundises  to  be  comprised  within  the  boke  of 
the  same  Average  except  oonly  salt  oon  peny  of  laufull  money  of 
Englond  and  of  evy  ton  lode  of  salt  ob.  [a  halfpenny]  over  and 
above  all  costes  that  here  before  have  ben  accustumed  to  be  leyd  in 
Average  And  all  that  money  comyng  of  the  said  ob.  of  evy  ton  lode 
of  salt  and  ]d.  of  evy  ton  and  ton  lode  of  evy  other  mchaundises 
shulbe  gadred  receyved  and  delyvd  by  the  Burser  of  the  ship  or 
vessaill  for  the  which  the  same  average  shalbe  leyd  unto  the  said 
maister  or  wardeyns  or  to  oon  of  theym  to  the  sustentacion  of  the 
charges  of  the  said  feliship  before  the  next  departure  of  the  same  ship 
or  vessaill  from  the  said  porte  of  Bristowe  towards  any  other  porte 
or  place  upon  payn  of  vjs.  viijd.  for  evy  default  in  that  behalf  to  be 
paid  by  the  said  Burser  unto  the  same  maister  and  wardeyns  to  the 
sustentacion  of  their  said  costes  and  charges. 

HlSO  tbat  asoft  and  whan  as  any  Ship  Balynger  barge  or  other 
vessaill  shall  come  to  the  said  porte  of  Bristowe  from  any  pte  beyond 
the  South  See  laden  with  wyne  wax  Jron  woode  [woad]  mader  grayn 
oyle  or  any  other  mchaundises  beyng  the  goodes  of  any  Alyen  or 
straunger  the  said  maister  and  wardeyns  shall  than  and  asoft  cause 
all  the  said  feliship  or  the  more  pte  of  theym  to  assemble  togeders 
atte  their  said  place  of  assemble  And  thon  and  there  shall  shewe  unto 
theym  the  coming  of  the  said  ship  Balynger  Barge  or  Vessaill  and 
marchandises  desirying  of  the  said  company  of  marchaunts  their 
Advises  what  is  to  be  don  in  that  behalve  for  the  wele  of  the  said 
feliship  And  therupon  their  advises  had  to  do  as  by  the  more  pte 
of  theym  shalbe  condescended  and  appoynted  And  that  noo  pson 
Burgeis  of  the  said  Toun  of  Bristowe  shall  atte  any  tyme  herafter 
take  upon  hym  to  bye  or  receyve  in  to  his  kepyng  charge  or 
governaunce  any  such  newe  come  wares  or  mchaundises  of  any  Alyen 
or  straunger  w*oute  thadvise  assent  or  licence  of  the  said  maister 
wardeyns  and  mchauntes  upon  peyn  to  forfaite  to  the  forsaid  felouship 
of  marchaunts  asoft  and  whan  as  he  so  shall  do  iijs.  iiijd.  of  evy  xxs. 
of  the  value  of  all  the  wares  or  marchaundises  bought  contrary  to 
this  ordenaunce. 

HlSO  it  is  ordeyned  and  establisshed  that  frohensfurth  evy  Son 
or  Appntice  of  evy  mchaunt  of  the  said  feliship  shall  atte  request 
instaunce  or  desire  to  be  made  by  his  fader  or  Maister  unto  the  said 
maister  and  wardeyns  be  admytted  to  be  oon  of  the  same  feliship 
withoute  any  fyne  therfor  to  be  paid  JpCOPiOCO  alwey  that  evy  such 
Son  or  Appntice  be  Burgeis  of  the  said  Toun  of  Bristowe  sworn  and 
admytted  by  the  maire  and  Chamberleyn  of  Bristowe  for  the  tyme 
beyng  before  that  he  in  any  wise  be  admytted  into  the  said  feliship  of 
marchaunts  by  the  said  maister  and  wardeyns  HlSO  it  is  ordeyned 


and  establisshed  by  Auctorite  aforsaid  that  evy  other  psone  Burgeis 
of  the  said  Toun  that  hath  obteyned  or  shall  obteyn  his  libtie  of  the 
same  Toun  by  redempcion  or  by  manage  of  any  Widowe  or  Doughter 
late  of  any  Burgeis  of  Bristowe  afforsaid  and  will  be  oon  of  the  said 
feliship  of  march  aunts  shall  make  fyne  therfor  with  the  said  maister 
and  wardeyns  as  they  shall  reasonably  agree  bitwen  theym. 

HISO  that  no  Burser  souldeour  nor  other  maryn  that  fromhens- 
furth  shall  sayle  in  any  ship  or  vessaill  of  Bristowe  or  within  any 
other  ship  or  vessaill  fretted  or  herafter  to  be  fretted  by  the  said 
maister  and  wardeyns  and  their  said  feliship  or  by  any  of  theym  shall 
bryng  or  delyv  or  cause  to  be  brought  or  delyvd  in  to  the  ship  or 
vessaill  wherin  he  shall  saill  any  moo  clothes  [cloths]  than  oonly  iij 
hoole  clothes  or  other  goodes  to  the  value  of  iij  clothes  for  the  which 
they  shalbe  sworn  upon  a  boke  before  the  cape  (sic)  jnchaunt  of  the 
same  ship  that  the  said  clothes  and  goodes  be  his  ppre  goodes  and 
caryed  atte  his  aventure  or  ells  yfc  they  be  the  goodes  of  oon  of  the 
said  feliship  of  mchaunts  And  if  any  Burser  souldeour  or  maryn  do 
heraft  in  any  thyng  contrary  to  this  ordenaunce  that  than  upon  due 
profe  therof  made  bifore  the  said  maister  and  wardeyns  the  same 
Burser  souldeour  or  maryn  shall  pay  to  the  same  maister  and 
wardeyns  for  eny  cloth  or  other  goodes  to  the  value  of  a  cloth  so 
coloured  vjs.  viij^.  And  on  that  clerely  and  uttly  shalbe  dismyssed  of 
saylyng  as  Burser  souldeour  or  maryner  in  the  company  of  any  of  the 
said  marchaunts  forevmore  flitOPibCfo  alwey  that  if  any  pson  of 
the  said  company  of  marchaunts  or  any  that  hath  ben  Appntice  unto 
any  of  theym  happen  to  saile  as  a  souldeour  or  maryner  in  any  ship 
or  other  vessaill  heraft  that  then  hit  shalbe  lefull  unto  hym  to  bryng 
goodes  in  to  the  ship  or  vessaill  wherin  he  so  shall  saile  vj  clothes  or 
other  goodes  of  his  ppre  goodes  to  the  verray  [true]  value  of  vj  clothes 
therin  to  be  caryed  in  to  that  porte  beyonde  see  unto  the  which  that 
ship  or  vessaill  shall  happen  to  be  fretted  And  that  it  shalbe  lefull 
unto  evy  of  theym  to  be  Attorney  in  feate  of  marchaundise  to  eny 
other  psone  of  the  said  company. 

lPl'OX>it)C£)  also  that  evy  maister  quart  maister  or  other  maryner 
conduytyng  govnyng  saylyng  or  suyng  in  any  ship  may  for  that  viage 
bryng  in  to  the  same  ship  asmoch  clothe  or  as  many  clothes  of  his 
ppre  goodes  or  of  the  goodes  of  any  marchaunt  or  marchaunts  of  the 
said  feliship  of  marchaunts  as  shall  amounte  in  frette  to  the  verry 
value  of  the  Portage  that  the  said  maister  quart  maister  or  maryner 
shall  hold  for  his  wages  in  the  said  ship  in  the  same  viage. 

HlSO  that  fromhensfurth  no  burgeis  of  the  said  Towne  of 
Bristowe  bey  or  cause  to  be  bought  any  goodes  or  marchaundises 
p'teignyng  to  any  fforeyn  Alien  Straunger  in  any  ship  bote  or 



vessaill  beyng  or  for  to  be  in  the  porte  of  Bristowe  afforsaid  nor  in 
any  other  place  within  the  said  Toun  of  Bristowe  or  suburbes  of  the 
same  but  oonly  in  the  comon  hall  called  Spicer's  hall  of  the  same 
Tou'n  which  is  a  comon  place  ordeyned  for  that  cause  And  that  no 
marchaunt  of  the  said  company  nor  other  burgeis  of  the  said  Toun 
fromhensfurth  shall  shewe  or  offer  any  wyne  wode  or  other  marchaun- 
dizes  to  be  sold  to  any  psone  or  psones  or  suffer  any  psone  or  psones 
not  being  of  the  said  company  of  marchaunts  to  se  or  taste  any 
wynes  or  other  marchaundises  of  his  in  any  other  place  than  oonly 
in  his  mansion  or  shop  or  in  celers  or  vawts  y*  he  holdeth  or  shall 
hold  in  ffee  or  for  terme  of  lyfe  or  for  terme  of  yeres  within  the  said 
Toun  or  suburbes  ffish  and  fruyte  excepted  upon  peyn  to  pay 
unto  the  said  maister  and  wardeyns  iij.t.  iiijd.  of  evy  xxs.  of  the  value 
of  the  said  wynes  and  marchaundises  so  sold  offerd  to  be  solde  seyn 
or  tasted  contrary  to  this  ordenaunce  of  the  which  sommes  the  said 
maister  and  wardeyns  shall  fro  tyme  to  tyme  delyv  and  pay  the  oon 
half  unto  the  said  Chambreleyn  or  to  his  successour  to  thuse  of  the 
said  maire  and  co'altee. 

HlSO  it  is  enacted  ordeyned  and  establisshed  that  fromhensfurth 
no  psone  of  the  said  company  nor  other  burgeis  of  the  said  Toun 
shall  make  or  cause  to  be  made  for  any  psone  or  psones  hereaft 
offendyng  contrary  unto  the  said  Actes  and  ordenaunces  or  to  any 
of  theym  any  labour  request  desire  or  prayer  unto  the  said  maire  or 
to  his  successour  or  to  the  said  maister  and  wardeyns  of  the  said 
feliship  that  nowe  be  or  hereaft  shalbe  or  to  any  of  theym  whereby  to 
stirre  theym  or  any  of  theym  to  pardon  forgeve  or  relesse  the  said 
penalitees  or  ffynes  or  any  pcell  of  theym  to  the  said  psones  so 
offendyng  or  to  any  of  theym  upon  peyn  of  forfaitur  of  vjs.  viijW.  to 
be  levied  of  his  or  their  goodes  and  marchaundises  so  makyng  any 
such  labour  request  desire  or  prayer  and  to  be  applyed  in  fourme 
folowyng  that  is  to  say  the  oon  half  therof  to  the  use  of  the  said 
Chambre  and  the  other  half  therof  to  the  contribucion  of  the  said 
feliship  of  marchaunts  And  that  asoften  and  when  as  he  shall  make 
or  do  to  be  made  any  such  labour  request  desire  or  prayer. 

HlSO  that  the  said  maister  and  wardeyns  yerely  before  the  ffest 
of  Alhalowes  shull  yeld  unto  their  successoures  maister  and  wardeyns 
of  the  said  feliship  a  iust  and  trewe  accompt  of  all  money  by  theym 
or  by  any  oftheym  receyved  or  to  be  receyved,  aswell  for  ob.  [a 
halfpenny]  of  evy  ton  of  salt  and  for  jd.  of  evy  ton  or  ton  lode  of  other 
marchaundises  as  for  ffynes  and  forfaitures  to  be  made  or  forfaited 
by  force  of  the  said  ordenaunces  or  of  any  of  theym  And  truely 
answer  to  theym  the  same  upon  payn  of  xx/».  to  be  paid  to  the  said 
Maire  and  Coialtee  and  to  their  successoures  to  the  comon  plte  of  the 


said  Toun  by  hym  or  theym  of  the  maister  and  wardeyns  of  the  said 
company  of  marchaunts  that  shall  make  default  in  makyng  or  yeldyng 
any  such  Accompt  or  that  shall  not  truely  answere  all  arrerage  to  be 
founde  upon  hym  atte  eny  such  Accompt. 

HlSO  it  shalbe  lefull  unto  the  said  maister  wardeyns  and  feliship 
that  nowe  be  and  heraft  shalbe  for  the  goode  rule  of  the  same  feliship 
to  make  ordeyn  and  establissh  by  their  Aller  [unanimous]  Assent 
Actes  and  ordenaunces  under  such  paynes  as  they  shull  thynke 
resonable  And  the  same  to  revoke  and  adnull  asofte  and  whan  as  it 
shall  pleas  theym  So  alwey  that  the  same  Actes  and  ordenaunces  so 
to  be  made  ordeyned  and  establisshed  by  the  same  maister  wardeyns 
and  feliship  be  in  no  wise  contrary  to  the  Kyngs  lawes  nor  p'iudiciall 
nor  hurtfull  to  the  comon  wele  of  the  said  Toun  of  Bristowe. 

HlSO  it  is  ordeyned  and  establisshed  by  auctorite  of  the  said 
comon  counsaill  that  if  any  psone  or  psones  of  the  said  mchaunts  or 
burgeises  that  shall  happen  to  do  contrary  to  the  said  ordenaunces 
or  to  any  of  theym  will  refuse  to  pay  the  said  fynes  and  penalitees 
or  any  parte  of  theym  that  than  it  shalbe  lefull  as  well  to  the 
Chamberleyn  of  the  forsaid  Toun  for  the  tyme  beyng  for  the  ptes 
therof  p'teynyng  unto  the  said  Chambre  as  unto  the  said  maister 
and  wardeyns  or  their  bideil  for  the  ptes  therof  belongyng  to  the 
said  feliship  and  to  eny  of  theym  to  entre  in  to  the  vawtes  celers 
shoppes  mansions  and  all  other  houses  of  the  same  psone  or  psones 
so  refusyng  to  pay  the  said  sommes  of  money  for  the  forsaid  ffynes 
and  penalitees  or  any  parte  of  theym  and  ther  to  distreyn  by  his 
or  their  ppre  goodes  for  the  same  And  the  distresses  there  so  taken 
alwey  to  cary  lede  and  toward  theym  self  to  reteyn  unto  the  tyme  all 
the  same  sommes  be  to  theym  fully  content  and  paid. 

(SJ,Ue  (JUibCttl  actus  ordinaciones  et  statuta  omnia  et  singula  supius 
expssat  maior  Aldermanni  Vicecomites  et  pbi  hoies  de  dto  coi  consilio 
supius  noiati  volunt  et  Concidunt  p  psentes  inviolabilit  in  omnbs 
observari  iuxta  veru  formam  tenorem  et  effectu  eordem  ppetuis 
futuris  temporibs  duratur  (sic)  Reservat  tamen  eis  ac  maiori  Alder- 
mannis  Vic  et  pbis  hominibs  de  coi  consilio  ville  pdte  qui  nunc  sunt 
et  erunt  in  futur  omnibs  et  singulis  potestate  et  auctoritate  Actus 
ordinaciones  et  statuta  pdicta  in  pte  vel  in  toto  revocare  diminuere 
adnihilare  augmentare  et  p  eor  libito  voluntatu  alia  Actus  ordinaciones 
et  statuta  utilia  loco  eor  sic  revocator  creare  et  de  novo  face  quotiens 
quando  et  pnt  sibi  p  [prout]  utilitate  honore  et  bono  publico  Coitat 
dte  ville  necnon  meliori  suaviori  gubnacione  dte  societat  mcator  pdtor 
melius  videbitur  expedire. 

Dat  in  Guyhald  dte  ville  Bristoll  sub  sigillo  Coi  maioris  et 
comitatis  ejusdem  civitat  die  et  anno  supradict. 



THE  corporate  ordinances  described  in  the  preceding 
chapter  proved  ineffectual  to  prevent  the  retail  traders  of 
the  city  from  carrying  on  mercantile  business.  Commerce, 
moreover,  appears  to  have  been  severely  depressed  during 
the  long  reign  of  terror  that  set  in  soon  after  the  fall  of 
Cardinal  Wolsey,  when  despotic  rule,  judicial  murders, 
wholesale  confiscations  of  property,  an  enormous  increase 
of  pauperism,  repeated  debasements  of  the  coinage,  and 
widespread  popular  discontent  deadened  the  energies  of 
the  nation.  The  first  half  of  the  sixteenth  century  has 
left  few  local  records  bearing  on  commercial  affairs,  the 
chroniclers  contenting  themselves  with  noting  the  help 
rendered  to  Henry  the  Eighth  by  the  Bristol  shipowners 
during  his  wars  with  France ;  though  on  this  point  their 
jottings  (see  Barrett,  p.  83)  are  sometimes  grossly 
untruthful.  One  important  reform  was,  however,  effected 
about  this  period.  During  the  Middle  Ages,  many  English 
fortified  boroughs  raised  a  portion  of  their  income  by  a 
system  still  pursued  in  Paris  and  other  continental 
centres,  namely  by  the  imposition  of  a  toll  upon  all  food 
and  merchandise  passing  through  the  town  gates.  The 
charge  in  Bristol  being  found  oppressive  on  the  poor  and 
an  impediment  to  trade,  some  leading  inhabitants  seem 
to  have  entered  into  negotiations  with  the  Corporation, 
which  was  then  bargaining  with  the  Government  for  the 
purchase  of  some  of  the  estates  of  the  suppressed  religious 


houses,  but  was  much  embarrassed  to  raise  the  amount 
demanded ;  and  a  curious  agreement  was  arrived  at  in 
1540.  The  various  parish  churches  possessed  at  that 
date  an  enormous  quantity  of  silver  and  silver  gilt  plate 
in  the  shape  of  processional  crosses  and  monstrances, 
candelabra,  incense  boxes,  patens,  chalices,  and  other 
articles.  The  manner  in  which  the  monasteries  had  just 
been  plundered  of  similar  valuables,  and  the  anticipated 
intention  of  the  Crown  to  devastate  the  parochial  chantries, 
naturally  induced  the  parishioners  to  think  of  turning  this 
portable  property  to  advantage  before  it  fell  into  the  royal 
maw.  By  general  consent,  therefore,  the  vestries  handed 
over  to  the  civic  body  a  mass  of  plate  to  the  value  of 
^523,  a  large  sum  in  those  days,  and  the  Corporation,  in 
consideration  of  the  gift,  abolished  the  obnoxious  tolls, 
and  also  the  dues  on  victuals  landed  at  the  quays,  to 
the  great  relief  of  the  community.  (The  money,  with 
about  ^480  more,  was  laid  out  in  acquiring  St.  Mark's 
Church,  and  part  of  the  estates  of  Gaunts  Hospital  and 
Athelney  Abbey,  together  with  the  Bristol  houses  of  the 
Grey  and  Carmelite  Friars,  the  last-named  of  which  was 
long  the  site  of  Colston's  School.)  The  wisdom  of  the 
citizens  in  making  the  above  donation  was  strikingly 
proved  a  few  years  later,  when  the  royal  commissioners 
swooped  down  upon  the  city  and  seized  upon  the  real  and 
movable  estates  of  all  the  local  chantries,  to  the  value  of 
over  ^5,000 ;  whilst  a  second  batch  of  spoilers  confiscated 
the  remainder  of  the  parochial  plate,  apparently  worth 
upwards  of  .£1,000. 

Before  this  havoc  had  been  completed  the  merchants 
of  Bristol  addressed  a  "  lamentable  representation"  to 
Edward  the  Sixth,  alleging  that  whilst  in  former  times 
the  trade  of  the  port  was  profitable  to  the  whole  com- 
munity, and  the  merchants  were  able  in  time  of  war  to 


offer  the  services  of  25  ships  for  the  defence  of  the  realm, 
commerce  had  drifted  mainly  into  the  hands  of  strangers, 
and  "scant  five  ships  belonged  to  the  city."  And  this 
was  due,  it  was  averred,  to  the  conduct  of  divers  artificers 
and  handicraftsmen,  destitute  of  mercantile  experience, 
who  had  presumptuously  undertaken  to  traffic  in  merchan- 
dise to  and  from  foreign  parts,  and  commonly  in  foreign 
vessels,  to  the  huge  loss  of  legitimate  merchants,  and  the 
general  decay  of  ships,  mariners,  and  the  city  at  large. 

In  response  to  this  appeal  the  young  King,  on 
the  i8th  December,  1552,  granted  the  following  charter, 
which  may  be  termed  the  Magna  Carta  of  the  Society  of 
Merchant  Venturers.  As  many  readers  find  it  tiresome 
to  wade  through  the  legal  tautology  of  documents  of  this 
kind,  it  may  be  briefly  stated  that  the  King,  after  reciting 
the  complaints  addressed  to  him  against  the  incompetent 
craftsmen  who  rashly  intermeddled  in  commercial  under- 
takings, to  the  undoing  of  legitimate  merchants,  the  decay 
of  shipping,  the  injury  of  the  port,  and  the  diminution  of 
the  royal  Customs,  granted  to  Edward  Prynn,  Thomas 
Hicks,  Robert  Butler,  and  their  brethren,  freemen  of  the 
city,  that  they  should  thenceforth  be,  for  ever,  a  body 
corporate,  with  perpetual  succession.  Edward  Prynn 
was  nominated  the  first  Master,  and  Hicks  and  Butler 
the  first  Wardens,  for  the  government  and  correction  of 
the  mystery  and  commonalty,  and  were  to  be  succeeded 
yearly  by  similar  officers,  elected  by  the  members  generally 
and  sworn  in  before  the  Mayor  and  Aldermen.  The  body 
thus  incorporated  was  to  have  the  usual  powers  to  plead 
and  be  impleaded  in  all  Courts  whatsoever,  and  was 
empowered  to  make  statutes  for  the  governance  of  the 
fellowship  as  needs  might  arise.  But  it  was  provided 
that  such  ordinances  must  not  contravene  the  laws  of  the 
realm,  or  prejudice  the  rights  of  the  Mayor — meaning 


doubtless  the  Corporation.  The  chief  object  desired  by 
the  applicants  for  the  charter  is  then  dealt  with.  The 
King  ordained  that  thenceforth  no  artificers  or  other 
persons  living  in  the  city  should  traffic  in  merchandise 
either  in  domestic  or  foreign  ports  before  being  admitted 
into  the  Society,  unless  an  apprenticeship  of  seven  years 
to  the  mystery  should  have  been  first  duly  served.  But 
it  was  provided  that  the  ordinances  made  by  the  Society 
should  concern  only  the  members  themselves,  and  not 
outsiders,  and  should  not  be  in  prejudice  of  any  person  or 
body  claiming  privileges  or  rights  by  virtue  of  previous 
royal  grants  ;  especial  reservation  being  made  for  the 
protection  of  the  Merchant  Adventurers  trading  with  the 
Low  Countries,  whose  statutes  and  privileges  were  to  be 
in  no  wise  interfered  with. 

SC£tU8  Dei  gratia  Anglic  Francie  et  Hibernie 
Rex  fidei  defensor  et  in  terra  ecclie  Anglicane  et  Hibernice 
Supremu  caput  ©UtUibUS  ad  quos  presentes  littere  pervenerint 
salutem  ScifltiS  qd  ex  lamentabili  insinuatoe  Edwardi  Pryn  Thome 
Hicks  et  Roberti  Butler  fideliu  ligeorum  nrorum  civitatis  nre 
Bristolli  ac  aliorum  mercatorum  periclitantiu  civitatis  pdicte  voc 
Marchaunte  Venterers  ponentiu  se  factores  servientes  bona  et  mer- 
candisas  in  periculo  super  mare  ad  diversas  partes  transmarinas  pro 
mercandisis  extra  hoc  regnu  nostrum  Anglie  educend  ac  in  idem 
regnu  inducend  accepimus  qualiter  diversi  artifices  et  homines  artis 
manualis  in  eadem  civitate  inhabitantes  occupacionesque  victu  suo 
querend  habentes  qui  nunqm  fuerunt  apprenticii  aut  educati  ad  vel 
in  recursu  artis  mercatorum  predictorum  nee  aliquam  bonam  cogni- 
tionem  in  eadem  arte  habentes  qui  vulganter  excitant  utuntur  et 
occupant  dictum  recursum  mercandise  ad  et  a  partibus  transmarinis 
vulgariter  in  navibus  sive  vasis  extraneis  per  quod  diversa  genera 
comoditatum  huius  Regni  nostri  Anglie  occulte  educuntur  et  con- 
vehuntur  incontrarm  bone  ordinis  et  legum  nostrarum  ac  in  magnam 
defraudationem  custumarum  nrarum  taliter  se  habentes  et  exercentes 
in  et  secundum  tales  malos  mores  et  irregulatos  quales  fuerunt  et 
existunt  in  magnu  scandalum  dictorum  mercatorum  ac  decasum 
naviu  et  marinariorum  ac  portus  civitatis  predicte  et  precipue 
dictorum  mercatorum  ad  et  in  dicto  recursu  mercandise  educatorum 


raagnamque  cognitionem  in  eodem  recursu  habentiu  ZHttbC  nos 
supplicaverunt  sibi  per  nos  de  remedio  congruo  provider!  nos 
indempnitati  nostre  in  hac  parte  ac  utilitati  et  bono  ordini  pre- 
dictorum  mercatorum  imposterum  habend  prospicere  volentes,  ut 
tenemur,  H)C  gratia  nra  speciali  concessimus  et  licenciam  dedimus  ac 
per  presentes  concedimus  et  licenciam  damus  pro  nobis  heredibus 
et  successoribus  nostris  quantum  in  nobis  est  prefatis  Edwardo  Pryn 
Thome  Hicks  et  Roberto  Butler  ac  aliis  mercatoribus  periclitantibus 
voc  Marchaunte  Venterers  dicte  civitatis  nre  Bristolli  qd  decetero 
habeant  unu  magrm  artis  sive  mistere  de  marchaunte  Venterers 
Civitatis  predicte  et  ipm  Edwardum  Pryn  magrm  artis  sive  mistere 
predicte  facimus  ordinamus  et  constituimus  per  presentes  ]£t  qd 
habeant  duos  Custodes  artis  sive  mistere  predicte  et  ipos  Thomam 
Hicks  et  Robertum  Butler  Custodes  artis  sive  mistere  predict 
facimus  ordinamus  et  constituimus  per  presentes  BC  dtm  Edwardum 
magistrum  artis  sive  mistere  predicte  HC  prefatos  Thomam  et 
Robertum  custodes  artis  sive  mistere  predicte  nominamus  assignamus 
discernimus  et  declaramus  per  presentes  Et  qd  tarn  predicti  Edwardus 
Thomas  et  Robertus  quam  alii  liberi  homines  dicte  civitatis  artem 
sive  misteram  de  Marchaunte  Venturers  predict  utent  qui  nunc  sunt 
et  de  tempore  in  tempus  imperpetuum  erunt  de  civitate  predicta 
decetero  sint  in  facto  re  et  nomine  unu  corpus  et  una  coitas  corporat 
imperpetuu  per  nomen  Magistri  custodum  et  Coitatis  de  Marchaunt 
Venturers  civitatis  Bristoll  et  qd  habeant  successionem  perpetuam 
J&t  qd  dicti  magister  custodes  et  coitas  et  successores  sui  imperpetuu 
singulis  annis  quotiens  necesse  erit  eligere  possint  et  facere  de  seipsis 
unu  magistrum  et  duos  custodes  sive  gardianos  ad  supportand  negocia 
eorundem  et  ad  supervidend  regend  et  gubernand  misteram  et 
coitatem  predict  et  omnes  homines  ac  occupant  servientes  servitores 
stuffuras  et  operationes  merces  et  mercimonia  eorundem  mistere  et 
coitatis  in  civitate  et  suburbiis  predict  imperpetuu  et  magistrum 
et  custodes  anni  precedentis  amovere  et  deftus  eorundem  dictam 
misteram  concernen  debite  corrigend  et  corrigi  faciend  )£t  (Jd  diet 
magister  custodes  et  coitas  pdti  heant  ut  prefertur  successionem 
perpetuam  et  commune  Sigillum  pro  negotiis  dicte  artis  sive  mistere 
et  coitatis  predict  imperpetuu  deservitur  ]£t  Qd  iidem  magister 
custodes  et  Coitas  et  successores  sui  per  nomen  magistri  Custodum 
et  coitatis  mistere  sive  artis  de  Marchaunte  Venturers  Civitatis 
Bristoll  capaces  et  habiles  sint  in  lege  et  placitare  possint  et 
implacitari  respondere  et  responded  defendere  ac  defendi  coram 
quibuscumque  Judicibus  et  Justiciariis  temporalibus  vel  spualibus 
seu  aliis  personis  quibuscumque  in  quibuscumque  Curiis  et  in 
omnibus  actionibus  realibus  personalibus  et  mixtis  ac  placitis  nove 


disseie  necnon  in  omnibus  placitis  sectis  querelis  negotiis  et  demandis 
quibuscumque  artem  sive  misteram  predictam  et  negotia  eiusdem 
tantummodo  concernen  ]£t  (Jd  quilibet  huiusmodo  magistrorum  et 
custodum  mistere  sive  artis  predict  pro  quolibet  anno  ut  premittitur 
eligend  sacramentum  prestet  corporale  coram  Maiore  et  Aldermannis 
Civitatis  predicte  pro  tempore  existend  de  officio  illo  ad  quod  taliter 
fuerit  electus  bene  et  fideliter  faciend  et  exequend  ac  dictis  Maiori  et 
Aldermannis  pro  tempore  existen  ad  huiusmodi  sacramenta  recipiend 
licentiam  damus  per  presentes  ]£t  UltCtfUS  qd  iidem  magister 
custodes  et  Coitas  dicte  mistere  sive  artis  et  successores  sui  plenam 
habeant  potestatem  et  auctoritatem  statuta  et  ordinationes  tantum- 
modo pro  bona  et  salubri  gubernatoe  supervisu  scrutinio  et  correctione 
mistere  sive  artis  predicte  ac  hominu  mistere  sive  artis  illius  ac 
solummodo  misteram  et  artem  illas  tangen  et  concernen  secundum 
necessitatis  et  rei  exigentiam  quotiens  et  quandocumque  opus  fuerit 
facere  et  ordinare  ac  ea  omia  et  singula  exequi  valeant  licite  et 
impune  sine  occasione  impeticione  vel  impedimento  nostri  heredum 
vel  successorum  nrorum  Justiciariorum  Escaetorum  Vicecomitum 
Coronatorum  aut  aliorum  Ballivorum  vel  ministrorum  nrorum 
heredum  vel  successorum  nrorum  quorumcumque  dummodo  statuta 
et  ordinaciones  ilia  contra  prerogativam  nram  aut  leges  et  consuetu- 
dines  regni  nostri  Anglie  necnon  in  preiudiciu  Maioris  Civitatis  nre 
predicte  non  existant  J&t  UltCttUS  VOlUlTlUS  ac  P6^  presentes 
concedimus  pro  nobis  heredibus  et  successoribus  nris  prefatis 
magistro  Custod  et  Coitati  qd  nullus  artifex  Civitatis  predicte  pro 
tempore  existens  excerceat  recursum  mercandise  in  partes  trans- 
marinas  in  regna  seu  dominia  nisi  admittatur  in  societatem  et 
incorporacionem  predict  per  dictos  magistrum  et  custodes  neq  ullus 
alius  nisi  tantummodo  tales  quales  fuerunt  vel  imposterum  erunt 
apprenticii  ad  dictam  misteram  sive  artem  mercatorum  predictorum 
aut  eadem  mistera  usi  fuerunt  per  spatiu  septem  annorum  {pCO\HSO 
SCfltpet  qd  statuta  et  ordinaciones  imposterum  per  dictos  magistrum 
custodes  et  coitatem  facienda  vel  ordinanda  tantummodo  tangant 
magistrum  custodes  et  coitatem  predict  vel  homines  de  Coitate  ilia  et 
non  alios  qui  non  sunt  neque  erunt  de  coitate  ilia  ac  dummodo  contra 
prerogativam  nram  aut  leges  et  consuetudines  regni  nostri  Anglie 
Necnon  in  preiudiciu  maioris  civitatis  nostre  predte  nee  in  preiudicium 
aliquarum  personarum  sive  alicuius  persone  corporis  politici  vel 
corporis  corporati  vel  incorporati  habentis  vel  habentium  clamantis 
vel  clamantium  aliqua  libertates  franchesias  privilegia  iura  sive 
preheminent  virtute  colore  vel  pretextu  alicius  concessionis  doni  vel 
litterarum  patentiu  nostri  vel  aliquorum  progenitorum  nrorum 
autehac  dat  concess  vel  fact  non  existant  ac  dummodo  statuta  sive 


ordinaciones  ilia  non  sint  sive  eorum  aliquod  non  sit  in  preiudicium 
dilect  subditorum  nrorum  gubernatoris  assistencium  j3t^  societatis 
mercatorum  se  bona  res  et  merces  suas  periculis  exponent  vulgariter 
vocat  Marchauntes  Adventurers  partes  Hollandie  Selandie  Brabandie 
et  fflandrie  ac  alias  regiones  terr  et  dominia  eisdem  partibus  adiacen 
mercatura  et  mercandisand  gratia  aditaut  et  frequentantiu  nee 
aliquorum  statutorum  ordinacionu  sive  constitutionu  per  dictos 
Gubernatorem  sive  Gubernatores  eiusdem  societatis  autehac  fact 
edit  vel  ordinat  vel  imposterum  per  eosdem  Gubernatorem  seu 
Gubernatores  et  assistentes  vel  eorem  successores  fiend  edend 
stabiliend  vel  ordinand  j£0  Qd  ejpteSSH  mentio  de  vero  valore 
annuo  aut  de  aliquo  alio  valore  vel  certitudine  premissorum  sive 
eorum  aliciuus  aut  de  aliis  donis  sive  concessionibus  per  nos  sive 
per  aliquem  progenitorum  nrorum  prefatis  magistro  custod  et 
CoTtati  dicte  mistere  sive  artis  de  Marchaunte  Venturers  Civitatis 
Bristoll  aut  predecessoribus  suis  ante  hec  tempora  fact  in  presentibus 
minime  fa~ct  exisTIt  aut  aliquo  statute  actu  ordinacione  provisione 
sive  restrictione  inde  incontrarium  fact  edit  ordinat  sive  provis  aut 
aliqua  alia  re  causa  vel  materia  quacumque  in  aliquo  non  obstant 
3tt  CUiUS  rei  testimoniu  has  litteras  nostras  fieri  fecimus  patentes 
ZTCStC  me  ipo  apud  Westmonasteriu  decimo  octavo  die  Decembris 
Anno  regni  nostri  sexto. 

Per  breve  de  private  sigillo  et  de  dat  pdict  auctoritat  pliamenti. 

WE  Bowis. 



J£t)Watt>  tbC  SijtC  by  the  grace  of  god,  of  England  Fraunce 
and  Ireland  Kinge  defender  of  the  Faith,  and  in  earth  of  the  Church 
of  England  and  Ireland  supreme  head  UO  all  those  to  whome 
theis  pnte  letters  shall  come  Health,  IkttOWC  gee  that  of  the 
lamentable  petition  of  Edward  Prin,  Thomas  Hickes,  and  Robert 
Butler  our  faithfull  Subiects  of  our  Citty  of  Bristoll  and  other 
marchaunts  adventurers  of  the  Citty  aforesaid  (called  marchant 
Venterers)  putting  themselves  theire  factors  servants  goods  and 
marchandice  in  perill  uppon  the  Sea  to  divers  parts  beyond  the 
seas  for  marchandizes  out  of  this  our  Realme  of  England  to  bee 
carried  &  into  this  Realme  of  England  to  bee  broughte  !$&£ 
have  bin  given  to  vnderstand  howe  that  divers  Artificers  and  men 
of  manuell  arte  inhabitinge  the  same  Citty  haveinge  alsoe  occupacons 
to  gett  theire  liveinge  (whoe  were  never  apprentice  or  brought  upp 


to  or  in  the  recourse  or  trade  of  the  arte  of  the  marchants  afore- 
saide,  nor  haveinge  anie  good  knowledge  in  the  same  Arte)  Doe 
commonly  exercise  use  and  occupie  the  saide  recourse  or  trade  of 
marchandize  to  and  from  the  partes  beyond  the  seas  commonly  in 
strange  shippes  or  vessells  whereby  divers  kindes  of  commodities 
of  this  our  Realme  of  England  are  secretly  carried  and  conveyed 
away,  against  our  good  orders  and  lawes,  and  to  the  greate 
defrauding  us  of  our  Customes,  In  such  sorte  behaveinge  and 
exerciseinge  themselves  in  and  after  such  like  eville  and  irregular 
manner,  the  which  have  bine  and  are  to  the  great  scandall  of  the 
saide  marchants  and  alsoe  to  the  decayeng  of  the  Navye  and 
marriners  and  the  porte  of  the  Citty  aforesaide,  and  chiefely  of 
the  saide  marchants,  haveing  bine  brought  upp  to  and  in  the 
saide  recourse  of  marchandize  and  haveinge  also  great  knowledge 
in  the  same  recourse  WbCtCUpOU  they  have  petitioned  us  that 
a  fitt  remedy  mighte  bee  (by  us)  provided  for  them  Hltt)  wee 
willinge  to  forsee  our  indempnitie  and  danger  in  this  behalfe,  and 
to  provide  for  the  profitt  and  good  order  of  the  saide  marchants  in 
tyme  to  come  (as  wee  are  bounde)  1foa\>C  of  our  speciall  favour  and 
grace  graunted  and  given  lycence,  and  by  theis  presents  for  us  our 
heires  and  Successors  (for  as  much  as  in  us)  Doe  graunte  and 
give  Licence  to  the  aforesaide  Edward  Prin,  Thomas  Hickes,  and 
Robert  Butler  and  other  marchant  adventurers  (called  marchaunts 
Venturers)  of  our  saide  Citty  of  Bristoll  That  hereafter  they  shall 
have  One  Maister  of  the  Arte  or  misterie  of  marchaunt  Venturers 
of  the  Citty  aforesaide  Hlt£>  wee  doe  make  ordeyne  and  constitute 
him  the  saide  Edward  Prin  maister  of  the  Arte  or  misterie  aforesaide 
by  theis  pnts  And  that  they  shall  have  twoe  wardeins  of  the  afore- 
saide Arte  or  misterie  And  we  do  ordeyne  and  constitute  them 
the  saide  Thomas  Hickes  and  Robert  Butler  wardeins  of  the 
aforesaide  Arte  or  Misterie  by  these  presents  Hilt)  the  saide 
Edward,  Maister  of  the  saide  Arte  or  Misterie,  And  the  aforesaid 
Thomas  and  Robert,  wardeynes  of  the  same  Arte  or  Misterie 
UGlCC  t)OC  name  assign  decree  and  declare  by  theis  pnts  :  And 
that  the  saide  Edward  Thomas  and  Robert  and  other  Free  men  of 
the  saide  Citty,  vsing  the  Arte  or  Misterie  of  Marchant  Venturers 
aforesaide  wch  nowe  are  and  from  tyme  to  tyme  for  ever  shalbee 
of  the  same  Citty  Shalbee  from  hencefourth  in  deed  matter  and 
name  one  bodye  and  one  Comynaltie  Corporated  for  ever  by  the 
name  of  the  Maister  Wardeins  and  Comynaltie  of  marchant 
Venterers  of  the  Citty  of  Bristol  HtU)  that  they  shall  have  a 
perpetuall  succession  And  that  the  aforesaide  Maister  Wardeyns 
and  Comynaltie  and  theire  Successors  for  ever,  euerie  yeere,  and 
as  often  as  need  shalbee,  may  choose  and  make  of  themselves  one 


Maister  and  twoe  Wardeyns  or  Guardians  to  supporte  the  Affaires 
thereof  And  to  oversee  rule  and  governe  the  saide  Misterie  and 
Comynaltie,  and  all  men  and  occupiers,  dealers  servants  factors 
stuffes  and  workes  wares  and  marchandize  of  the  saide  misterie 
and  Comynaltie  in  the  Citty  and  Subburbes  aforesaid  And  the 
maister  and  wardeins  of  the  yeere  before  to  amove  and  their 
defects  concerninge  the  saide  Misterie  duely  to  correct  and  cause 
to  be  corrected  Httt)  that  the  saide  Maister  Wardeyns  and 
Commynaltie  aforesaide  shall  have  as  aforesaid  a  perpetuall 
succession  and  a  Common  Seale  to  serve  for  the  affayres  and 
busines  of  the  saide  Arte  or  Misterie  and  Comynaltie  aforesaide 
for  ever  Hltfc  that  they  the  saide  Maister  Wardens  and  Com- 
mynaltie and  theire  Successors  (by  the  name  of  the  Maister 
Wardeins  and  Comynaltie  of  the  Misterie  or  Arte  of  marchant 
Venterers  of  the  Citty  of  Bristoll)  shalbee  capeable  and  fitt  in  ye 
lawe,  and  may  plead  and  bee  ympleaded,  answere  and  bee 
answered,  defende  and  bee  defended,  before  all  and  whatsoever 
Judges  and  Justice,  temporall  or  spirituall  or  any  other  person  or 
persons  whatsoever,  in  whatsoeuer  Courts,  and  in  all  accons  reall 
personall  and  mixt,  and  pleas  of  Nouel  diseisen,  and  alsoe  in  all 
pleas  suits  quarrells  affaires  and  demaunds  whatsoeuer  concerninge 
onely  the  Arte  or  Misterie  aforesaide  and  the  affaires  of  the  same 
Hltft  that  euery  one  of  them  the  saide  Maisters  &  wardeins  of  the 
Misterie  or  Arte  aforesaide  for  every  yeere  as  aforesaide  to  bee 
chosen  shall  take  his  corporall  oath  before  the  Mayor  and  Alder- 
men of  the  Cittie  aforesaide  for  the  tyme  beinge  well  and  faithfully 
to  doe  and  execute  the  office  aforesaide  whereunto  hee  shalbee  in 
such  wise  elected  And  unto  the  saide  Maior  and  Aldermen  for 
the  time  beinge  wee  doe  give  lycence  by  these  pnts  to  receyve  the 
saide  oath  Hllfc  further  that  the  saide  Maister  Wardeins  and 
Comminaltie  of  the  saide  Misterie  or  Arte  and  theire  Successors 
shall  have  full  power  and  authoritie  to  make  and  ordeyne  statutes 
and  ordinaunce  for  the  good  and  profittable  governement  surveying 
search  and  correction  of  the  Misterie  or  Arte  aforesaide  onely,  and 
of  the  men  of  the  same  Misterie  or  Arte,  and  such  onely  as  doe 
touch  and  concerne  the  saide  Misterie  and  Arte  accordinge  to  the 
necessitie  and  ymportance  of  the  matter,  as  often  and  when  as  need 
shalbee  Htt£>  that  they  may  lawfully  and  freely  execute  all  and 
singular  those  things  without  any  lett  suite  or  ympediment  of  us  our 
heires  or  Successors  or  of  the  Justice  Escheator  Shiriffe  Coroners 
or  any  other  Bailives  or  Ministers  of  us  our  heires  or  Successours 
whatsoeuer  Soe  as  those  Statuts  and  Ordinaunce  bee  not  against 
our  prerogatyve  or  the  lawes  and  Customes  of  our  Realme  of 


England,  nor  in  preiudice  of  the  Mayor  of  our  Cittie  aforesaide 
Bttfc  further  wee  will  and  by  theis  pnts  Doe  grannt  (for  us  our 
heires  and  Successors)  to  the  aforesaide  Maister  wardens  and 
Commynaltie  that  noe  Artificer  of  the  Citty  aforesaide  for  the 
tyme  beinge  shall  exercise  the  recourse  of  marchandize  into  the 
kingdomes  or  dominions  of  the  parties  beyond  the  seas  unlesse  hee 
shalbee  admitted  into  the  saide  Societie  and  State  aforesaide  by 
the  saide  Maister  and  wardens,  Neither  that  any  other  but  onelie 
those  whoe  have  bine,  or  hereafter  shalbee  apprentice  to  ye  saide 
Misterie  or  Arte  of  Marchaunts  aforesaide  or  have  vsed  the  same 
Misterie  by  the  space  of  seauen  yeeres  JptOttifcCb  allwaies  that 
the  Statuts  and  Ordinaunce  hereafter  (by  the  saide  Maisters 
Wardeins  and  Commynaltie)  to  be  made  or  ordeyned  Doe  only 
touch  the  Maisters  Wardeyns  and  Comynaltie  aforesaide  or  the 
men  of  the  same  Comynaltie  and  not  any  others  wch  are  not 
neither  shalbee  of  the  same  Cominaltie  And  soe  as  they  bee  not 
against  our  prerogative  or  the  lawes  and  Customes  of  our  Realme 
of  England,  neither  in  prejudice  of  the  Mayor  of  the  Citty  afore- 
saide, nor  in  preiudice  of  anie  person  or  persons  of  any  bodie 
politicke  or  Bodie  Corporated  or  Incorporated  haveinge  or  they 
haveinge  Clayminge  or  they  claimeinge  anie  Liberties  Franchises 
priviledge  righte  or  preheminence  by  vertue  colour  or  pretence  of 
any  graunte,  guifte,  or  Letters  pattents  of  us,  or  of  any  of  our 
progenitours  before  this  tyme  given  graunted  or  made  Hut)  SOC 
as  the  saide  Statutes  or  Ordinaunce  are  not,  or  any  of  them  bee 
not,  in  preiudice  of  our  welbeloved  Subiects  the  Governour  Assist- 
ants and  Societye  of  marchants  commonly  called  Marchants 
Aduenturers  goeing  vnto  and  frequentinge  the  Coaste  of  Holland 
Seland  Braband  and  Flanders  and  other  Regions  Landes  and 
Dominions  to  the  same  partes  adioyninge,  putting  forth  themselves 
theire  goods  wares  and  marchandizes  in  perrill  for  trade  and 
marchandisinge  sake,  Nor  to  any  Statutes  Ordinaunce  or  Con- 
stitucions  heretofore  made  published  or  ordeyned  by  the  saide 
Governour  or  Governours  of  the  saide  Societie  or  hereafter  to  bee 
made,  published,  established,  or  ordeyned  by  the  saide  Governour 
or  Governours  and  Assistants  or  theire  Successors  notwithstandinge 
that  noe  expresse  mention  of  the  true  yeerely  value  of  the  premisses 
or  of  any  other  value  or  certeyntie  thereof  or  of  anie  other  guifte 
or  graunte  by  us  or  by  anie  of  our  Progenitours  to  the  aforesaide 
Maister  Wardeyns  and  Comynaltie  of  the  Misterie  or  Arte  of 
marchant  Venturers  of  the  Citty  of  Bristoll,  or  to  theire  Prede- 
cessours  before  this  tyme  hath  bin  made,  nor  in  anie  wise  by  theis 
pnts  is  made,  nor  of  anie  Statute,  Acte,  Ordinaunce,  provision  or 


restraint,  or  of  any  other  thinge  cause  or  matter  whatsoever  in 
anie  wise  made  published  ordeyned  or  provided  to  the  contrary 
thereof  notwithstandinge  -Jit  TKHtttlCS  whereof  wee  have  caused 
these  our  Letters  to  bee  made  Pattente  TKHitlieS  my  Self  at 
Westminster  the  eightenth  day  of  December  In  the  Sixte  yeere 
of  our  Raigne. 

The  members  of  the  infant  Society  soon  learnt  from 
experience  that  a  verbal  interdiction  of  retail  dealers  and 
craftsmen  from  meddling  in  mercantile  affairs,  unaccom- 
panied by  penalties  calculated  to  enforce  obedience,  was 
in  practice  nugatory.  Early  in  1566  it  was  resolved  to 
apply  to  the  Crown  for  a  more  effectual  remedy.  The 
first  step  taken  was  to  petition  for  a  confirmation  of  the 
foregoing  charter,  and  in  answer  to  the  prayer  Queen 
Elizabeth,  on  the  8th  July,  granted  letters  patent,  reciting 
those  of  her  brother  at  full  length,  and  confirming  them 
in  the  following  terms.  (The  translated  transcript  is  taken 
from  an  ancient  copy  in  the  Society's  archives)  :  — 

Dei  gracia  Anglie  Fraunc  et  Hibernie  Regina  fidei 
defensor  &c.  Omnibus  ad  quos  presentes  litere  pervenerint  Salutem 
Inspeximus  literas  patentes  Domini  E.  nuper  Regis  Anglie  sexti 
fratris  nostri  precharissimi  factas  in  hec  verba  ]£J)Wat£>US  SCJtUS 
[&c.,  as  in  the  preceding  charter].  1R03  HutCIH  literas  predictas  ac 
omnia  et  singula  in  eis  contenta  rata  hentes  et  grata  ea  pro  nobis 
heredibus  et  successoribus  nostris  quantum  in  nobis  est  acceptamus 
et  approbamus  ac  dilectis  nobis  Thome  Kelke  nunc  magistro  Dominico 
Chester  et  Thome  Alder  nunc  Custodibus  et  Comunitati  artis  sive 
mistere  de  Merchaunt  Venturers  civitatis  nostre  Bristoll  et  eorum 
successoribus  tenore  present  ratificamus  et  confirmamus  prout  litere 
predicte  testantur  $\\  CUiUS  tCi  testimonium  has  literas  nostras  fieri 
fecimus  patentes  TlCStC  me  ipsa  apud  Westmonasterium  octavo  die 
lulii  anno  regni  nostri  octavo. 


Hnt>  WCe  accepting  and  allowinge  of  the  saide  Letters 
pattente  aforesaide,  and  all  and  euerye  thinge  in  the  same  conteyned, 
Doe  for  us  our  heires  and  successours  Ratifie  and  approve  the  same 
And  to  our  Welbeloved  Thomas  Kelke  now  Maister,  Dominicke 


Chester  and  Thomas  Alder  now  Wardeyns  and  to  the  Commonalty  of 
the  Arte  or  Misterie  of  Marchante  Venturers  of  our  Citty  of  Bristoll 
and  theire  Successours  by  the  tenore  of  theise  presents  Wee  doe  ratifie 
and  confirme  even  as  the  Letters  pattente  aforesaide  doe  testifie  $tt 
WfttttCS  whereof  wee  have  caused  theis  our  letters  to  be  made 
Pattente  TKHftttteS  my  selfe  at  Westminster  the  eighte  day  of  July  in 
the  Eighte  yeere  of  our  Raigne  (1566). 

Application  was  then  made  to  Parliament  for  statutory- 
powers  to  enforce  the  royal  provisions.  The  necessary 
Bill  was  brought  into  the  House  of  Commons  on  the  28th 
November,  passed  that  Chamber  on  December  4th,  was 
rapidly  carried  through  all  its  stages  in  the  Upper  House, 
and  received  the  Royal  Assent.  The  enactment,  it  will 
be  seen,  recites  the  reasons  advanced  for  its  promotion  — 
namely,  the  impoverished  state  of  the  mercantile  interest 
through  the  ruinous  competition  of  unqualified  traders  — 
and  thereupon  ordains  that  no  citizen  except  a  member 
of  the  Society,  or  a  person  who  has  served  a  seven  years' 
apprenticeship  to  a  merchant,  shall  thenceforth  traffic  in 
merchandise  beyond  the  seas,  upon  pain  of  forfeiture  of 
all  the  goods  that  he  may  import  or  export,  one  moiety 
of  the  penalty  being  reserved  to  the  Crown,  and  the 
remainder  to  be  divided  between  the  Corporation  and  the 
Society.  The  latter  body  is  further  empowered  to  expel 
from  its  ranks  any  member  who  shall  carry  on  a  business 
not  exclusively  mercantile.  The  following  contemporary 
copy  of  the  statute  is  preserved  in  the  Hall  :  — 

COPPfC  of  an  Acte  made  at  the  Parliament  holden  (by 
prorogation)  at  Westminster  the  last  daie  of  September 
in  the  eighte  yeere  of  the  Raigne  of  our  Soveraigne  Lady 
Queene  Elizabeth  &  Anno  Christi  1566. 

Hit  HctC  for  Confirmation  of  Letters  Pattente  graunted  to  the 
Marchant  Adventurers  of  the  Citty  of  Bristoll. 

TKHber,eaS  the  Cittie  of  Bristol,  beinge  an  Ancyent  Towne  of 
this  Realme  of  England,  hath  allwaies  bin  inhabited  and  vsed  by 
and  with  a  number  of  Marchaunte  Aduenturers  of  the  same  Citty 


vsinge  trafficke  and  marchandize  to  and  from  beyond  the  Seas, 
By  reason  whereof  the  same  Citty  hath  not  heretofore  bin  only 
greatly  enriched,  and  the  Inhabitants  of  the  same  of  all  Science 
verie  well  occupied  and  sett  in  worke  in  and  aboute  theire  severall 
Arts  misteries  and  occupacons,  but  have  bine  alsoe  ayding  and 
assistaunt  (by  reason  of  the  said  marchaunte  Aduenturers)  uppon 
the  seas  unto  the  Princes  Navie  of  this  Realme  (in  tyme  of  warres) 
for  the  defence  of  this  whole  Realme,  with  twentie  five  shippes 
for  the  moste  parte,  untill  that  nowe  of  late,  by  reason  of  a 
number  of  the  Inhabitants  of  the  saide  Cittie,  of  divers  faculties 
and  sciences,  being  not  able  to  have  anie  convenient  shippes  or 
vessells  of  theire  owne,  have  vsed  to  trafficke  marchandize  and 
carry  wares  to  and  from  the  parties  of  beyond  the  Seas,  in 
strainge  shippes  and  vessells,  soe  commonly  and  so  much  as  the 
marchauntes  aduenturers,  haveinge  noe  other  science  but  onely 
that  to  lyve  uppon,  were  not  able  to  mainteyne  theire  own 
navigacon  and  shippes,  but  some  were  enforced  to  sell  theire 
shippes,  and  some  to  leave  theire  shippes,  and  lay  them  upp  in 
Docke,  untill  such  tyme  as  they  were  spoiled  and  lost,  So  as  of 
late  there  were  scant  five  shippes  left  belonging  to  the  saide 
Citty,  whereas  in  tymes  past  there  hath  bine  twenty  five:  And 
this  matter  beinge  of  late  declared,  and  inform  aeon  thereof  made 
to  our  late  soueraigne  lorde  Kinge  Edward  the  Sixte,  his  grace 
mindinge  to  provide,  as  well  for  the  mayntenance  and  contynuance 
in  prosperitie  of  the  saide  Citty  As  alsoe  for  the  encrease  of 
defences  of  this  Realme  from  our  Enimies,  as  before  this  tyme 
had  bin :  And  to  thintent  that  the  marchauntes  adventurers  and 
Navigacon  of  the  saide  Citty  might  encrease  and  multiplie  to  such 
nomber  as  before  tyme  had  bin,  HHt)  by  his  grace's  Letters 
pattente  under  his  great  Scale  of  England  bearing  date  at  West- 
minster the  eighteenth  daie  of  December  in  the  sixte  yeere  of  his 
grace's  Raigne  encorporate  the  Company  and  Feloushipp  of  the 
saide  marchaunte  Aduenturers  by  the  name  of  Maister  Wardeyns 
and  Comynaltie  of  the  Misterie  or  Arte  of  Marchaunte  Venturers 
of  the  City  of  Bristoll  And  by  the  same  letters  pattente  S)ft)  not 
onely  graunte  unto  them  to  plead  and  to  bee  ympleaded  by  the 
same  name  But  alsoe  divers  other  Liberties  Ordinaunce  rules 
priviledges  and  authorities,  as  by  the  saide  letters  pattente 
therein  more  fully  and  at  large  doe  appeare,  Which  saide  letters 
pattente  and  all  and  euery  thinge  and  things  in  them  conteyned 
and  expressed  Our  Soveraigne  Lady  the  Queenes  Matie  that  nowe 
is,  hath  to  and  for  thintent  and  purpose  above  expressed,  likewise 
by  her  grace's  Letters  pattente  under  her  great  Seale  of  England 


bearinge  date  at  Westminster  aforesaide  the  eighte  day  of  July 
in  the  eighte  yeere  of  her  saide  graces  Raigne,  allowed  confirmed 
and  ratified  As  by  ye  same  Letters  pattente  doe  alsoe  therein 
playnely  appeare  JBCC  it  tbCtCfOte  Enacted  by  the  Queenes 
moste  Excellente  Maiestie,  the  Lordes  Spirituall  and  temporall, 
and  by  the  Commons  in  this  present  Session  of  Parliament 
assembled,  and  by  the  aucthorite  of  the  same,  for  the  consideracons 
and  mayntenance  of  the  Cittie  of  Bristoll  aforesaide,  that  the  said 
Felowshippe  and  Society  of  Marchaunte  Aduenturers  bee  incor- 
porate for  evermore  in  such  manner  and  wise,  and  by  such  a 
name,  as  is  declared  and  conteyned  in  the  aboue  resited  letters 
pattente  of  our  said  late  Soueraigne  Lorde  Kinge  Edward  ye  Sixte 
And  that  the  same  Corporacon  may  evermore  hereafter  have  and 
enjoy  all  such  like  Liberties,  ordinaunce,  rules,  priviledge,  and 
aucthorities,  as  are  menconed  and  specified  in  the  said  Letters 
pattente  accordinge  to  the  words  sentences  true  intent  effecte  and 
meaninge  of  the  saide  letters  pattente  to  all  intents  and  purposes. 
Httt>  tUttbCUttOrC,  whereas  by  the  saide  recited  Letters  Pattente 
of  our  saide  late  Soueraigne  Lord  Kinge  Edward  ye  Sixte  yt  is 
graunted  to  the  saide  Corporacon  that  noe  Artificer  or  of  anie 
other  science  of  the  saide  Citty  of  Bristoll  for  the  tyme  beinge 
should  exercise  the  recourse  of  marchandize  into  the  parts  beyond 
the  Seas  vnlesse  they  were  admitted  into  the  Societie  and 
Corporacon  aforesaide  by  the  Maister  and  Wardeins  of  the  same 
Corporacon  for  the  tyme  beinge,  or  else  weare,  or  shalbee  appren- 
tice to  the  saide  Misterie  or  Arte  of  Marchaunts  aforesaide  by  the 
space  of  Seaven  Yeeres,  And  for  that  there  is  noe  penaltie  pro- 
vided or  ordeyned  for  such  as  shall  exercise  the  recourse  of 
marchandize  beyond  the  Seas  contrary  to  the  Clause  of  the  said 
letters  pattente  aboue  resited,  divers  and  sundrie  psons  of  the 
saide  Citty,  beinge  neither  admitted  into  the  saide  Societie  or 
Corporacon,  neither  haue  bene  apprentice  to  the  same  Arte  by  the 
space  of  Seaven  yeeres,  Doe  still  vse  and  exercise  the  recourse 
of  marchaundise  beyond  the  Seas,  contrary  to  the  good  intention 
therein  had  and  made,  and  contrary  to  the  expresse  words  of  the 
saide  letters  pattente  to  the  great  hinderaunce  and  decay  of  all 
the  aforesaide  Cittie 

3Be6  it  therefore  Enacted  and  established  by  the  Aucthoritie  of 
this  present  parliament  that  after  the  Feaste  of  Sainct  John  the 
Baptist  next  cominge,  noe  manner  of  person  or  persons  dwelling  or 
that  hereafter  shall  dwell  within  the  said  Citty  of  Bristoll,  or  the 
Subbirbes  or  Liberties  of  the  same,  shall  vse  or  exercise,  by  him- 
selfe,  or  by  anie  other,  the  recourse  or  trafficke  of  marchandize 



beyond  the  Seas,  vnlesse  the  same  person  or  persons  bee  nowe 
made,  or  hereafter  shalbee  admitted  to  bee,  of  the  saide  Societie 
or  Corporacon  aboue  named  by  the  maister  and  wardeyns  of  the 
saide  Corporacon,  Or  els  that  hee  or  they  have  byne,  or  shalbee 
apprentice  or  apprentices,  and  served  in  and  to  the  saide  Arte  or 
misterie  of  Marchaunts  within  the  same  Cittie  or  Liberties  of  the 
same  by  the  space  of  seaven  yeeres  uppon  paine  of  Forfeiture  of 
all  the  goods  and  marchandice  that  hee  or  they,  or  any  of  them, 
shall  att  anie  tyme  after  the  saide  Feast  of  Sainct  John  the 
Baptist  soe  vse,  carry,  transporte  or  convey  to  or  from  beyond 
the  Seas  contrary  to  the  tenure  aforesaide :  the  one  moyetie  of 
which  Forfeiture  to  bee  to  the  Queenes  maiestie,  her  heires  and 
Successours,  and  the  other  moyetie  to  bee  devided  betweene  the 
said  Corporacon  and  the  Chamber  of  the  saide  Citty  of  Bristoll 
aforesaide  Httt>  that  if  anie  person  or  persons  that  nowe  is  or 
are,  or  that  hereafter  shalbee  anie  of  the  saide  Corporacon  of 
marchants  shall  att  any  tyme  after  the  saide  Feast  of  Sainct  John 
Baptist  vse  or  exercise  any  other  science,  misterye,  arte,  or 
occupacon  then  onely  that  of  marchante  Adventurers,  that  then  it 
shalbee  lawfull  to  and  for  the  saide  Maister  and  Wardeyns  of  the 
saide  Corporacon  for  the  tyme  being  to  dismisse  expell  remove 
and  put  of  and  out  of  the  saide  Societie  or  Corporacon  the  same 
person  or  persons  wch  soe  shall  vse  anie  other  science  misterie 
arte  or  occupacon  then  onely  of  marchant  aduenturers  as  is 

The  incorporation  of  the  Society  must  have  necessi- 
tated the  adoption  of  a  common  seal  for  the  due  execution 
of  legal  documents ;  but  there  is  no  mention  of  such  an 
instrument  until  1569,  when  the  following  grant  of  arms 
was  obtained  from  Robert  Cooke,  Clarencieux,  one  of  the 
most  grotesque  of  the  tasteless  heralds  of  the  Tudor 
period : — 

Uo  all  ant)  sgnauler  aswell  nobles  an&  aentillmen  as 

OtbCtS  to  whom  these  presents  shall  come,  Robert  Cooke  esquier 
alias  Clarenciulx,  principal  herehault  and  kinge  of  armes  of  the 
sowthe  easte  and  west  parts  of  this  Realme  of  England  from  the 
riuer  of  trent  sowthwards,  sendeth  humble  comendacons  and 
greeting  ^FotaSHtOCbe  as  aunciently  from  the  beginninge  the 
valiant  &  vertuous  acts  of  worthy  persons  haue  ben  comended  to 
the  world  with  sondry  monvments  and  remembrances  of  their  good 


desertes  emongst  the  which  the  chefest  and  most  vsuall  hathe  beri 
the  bearinge  of  signes  in  shildes  caled  armes  which  are  euident 
demonstracions  of  prowes  diuersly  distributed  accordinge  to  the 
qualities  and  desertes  off  the  persons  meritinge  the  same  to  the  end 
that  suche  as  have  done  comendable  seruice  to  their  prince  or  contry 
eyther  in  warre  or  peace  may  bothe  receiue  due  honor  in  their  lyues 
and  also  deryue  the  same  successively  to  their  posteritie  after  them 
for  euer  Htt£)  WbCtC88  the  moste  noble  and  excellent  prince  of 
famows  memory,  Kinge  Edwarde  the  sixte,  did  by  his  graces  Ires 
pattents  vnder  his  greate  scale  of  england,  bearing  date  at  west- 
mester  the  xviij  daye  of  december  in  the  sixt  yere  of  his  graces 
reigne,  incorporate  the  company  and  fellowship  of  the  marchant 
aduenturars  of  Bristoll  by  the  name  of  maister  wardens  and  com- 
unitie  of  the  misterie  or  arte  of  marchants  aduenturars,  and  by  the 
same  Ires  patents  his  grace  did  not  only  grawnt  vnto  them  diuers 
and  sundry  liberties,  as  to  pleade  and  be  ympleaded  by  that  name 
and  names  as  ys  aforesaid  but  further  that  they  sholde  haue  a 
perpetuall  succession  and  one  comon  scale  for  the  business  of  the 
said  art  mistery  and  comunytie  to  serue  them  for  euer,  at  whiche 
time  Edwarde  prinne  was  ordayned  maister  of  the  said  art  and 
misterie  and  Thomas  Hickes  and  Robert  Butler  wardens,  which 
said  Ires  patents  the  Quenes  maiestie  that  now  ys  hathe  likewise 
by  her  graces  Ires  pattents  vnder  her  greate  scale  of  england,  bearing 
date  at  Westmestre  aforesaid  the  viij  day  of  July  in  the  eight  yere  of 
her  graces  reigne  allowed,  confirmed,  and  ratified  as  by  the  same 
Ires  patents  doth  also  therein  plainly  appere  HltD  fllttbCt  the  said 
Ires  patents  of  corporation  were  confirmed  by  acte  of  parlament  in 
the  viij  yere  of  the  Quenes  majesties  reigne  aforesaid  in  such 
manner  and  forme  as  more  playnly  appereth  by  the  said  acte  of 
parlament,  and  forasmoche  as  the  said  maister  wardens  and 
comunytie  haue  grawnted  vnto  them  one  comon  seale  to  vse 
about  their  necessarie  affaires  as  ys  aforesaid  Jft  COnSf&CtatfOtt 
WbCteOf  and  at  the  instant  request  of  Dominyk  Chester,  maister, 
Thomas  Rowland  and  John  Carre,  wardens,  withe  the  consent  of 
the  comunitie,  $  bflUC  assigned  given  &  grawnted  unto  the  said 
maister,  wardens,  and  comunitie  the  armes  creaste  and  supportars 
followinge  TTbftt  13  tO  S8£  barry  onde  of  viij  peces  siluer  and  asur, 
on  a  bend  golde  a  dragon  volant  vert,  on  a  chefe  gules  a  lion  passant 
golde  betwen  two  besants,  vppon  the  heaulme  on  a  wreath  golde  and 
asur  the  toppe  of  a  ship  armed  or,  in  the  same  a  man  in  maile,  in 
prop  coollor,  in  his  right  hande  a  targe  and  in  the  lefte  hande  a  darte 
or,  supported  withe  two  supportars,  the  first  a  mairmaid  the  uppar 
parte  charne,  her  heare  and  finnes  withe  an  ancar  in  her  hand  golde. 


the  nether  parte  in  proper  cooller,  the  second  supportar  ys  the  figure 
of  tyme,  the  uppar  parte  charey,  his  winges  and  the  nether  parte 
golde,  in  his  left  hand  a  sithe,  the  shaft  sables,  the  sithe  argent, 
mantled  gules,  dowbled  argent,  as  more  plainly  apperith  depicted  in 
the  margent  UO  bftUC  aitfc  bOlfce  the  said  armes  creast  and 
supportars  to  the  said  maister  wardens  and  comunitie  &  to  their 
successors  in  lyke  places,  and  they  the  same  to  vse,  beare,  and 
shew  for  euer  at  their  liberti  &  pleasure,  withowt  impediment,  let, 
or  interupton  of  any  person  or  persons  -Jtl  WitltCS  WbCtCOf 
I  haue  set  herevnto  my  hand  and  the  scale  of  my  office  the  xxiiij 
day  of  august  in  the  eleuenth  yere  of  the  reigne  of  our  sovereigne 
lady  Quene  Elizabeth. 


Roy  D'armes. 

The  Act  of  1566  brought  about  the  only  serious 
difference  between  the  Corporation  and  the  Society  to  be 
found  in  the  ancient  annals.  Through  the  depression 
of  the  mercantile  interest  that  then  prevailed,  the  pre- 
dominance that  merchants  had  previously  enjoyed  in  the 
Common  Council  appears  to  have  been  temporarily 
superseded  by  trading  influences.  As  Parliament  did  not 
meet  again  for  five  years,  no  immediate  steps  were 
practicable  in  opposition  to  the  Act,  but  it  is  significant 
that  nothing  was  received  in  the  meantime  by  the  city 
Treasurer  on  account  of  forfeitures  for  infringements  of 
the  new  law.  The  general  election  in  the  spring  of  1571 
occasioned  an  unexampled  conflict  for  the  two  seats. 
After  a  prolonged  contest  the  previous  members  for  the 
city — one  of  whom  was  certainly  and  the  other  probably 
a  member  of  the  Society — were  not  again  returned,  John 
Popham,  the  Recorder  (afterwards  the  Chief  Justice  of 
Wild  Dayrell  fame),  being  one  of  those  chosen  in  their 
place  by  the  opposition  party.  Simultaneously,  the 
Mayor  and  Aldermen  forwarded  a  letter  to  Lord  Burghley 
on  March  28th,  alleging  that  the  Act  of  1566  was  calculated 
to  greatly  damage  the  trade  of  the  city,  and  praying  for 


its  repeal.  (This  letter  is  in  the  Record  Office.)  And  the 
Houses  had  no  sooner  assembled  in  April  than  a  "Bill  for 
Bristowe"  was  introduced,  and  was  read  a  first  time  at 
the  fifth  sitting  of  the  House  of  Commons.  On  the 
following  day  it  was  read  a  second  time  ;  whereupon,  says 
the  Commons'  Journal,  "  many  and  sundry  long  argu- 
ments "  were  advanced  both  for  and  against  it.  The 
controversy  was  so  keen  that  the  then  unusual  course  was 
adopted  of  referring  the  measure  to  a  select  committee. 
The  existing  books  of  the  Society  do  not  contain  the 
slightest  allusion  to  the  subject ;  but  the  following  paper, 
obviously  written  on  behalf  of  the  fraternity,  is  preserved 
at  the  Record  Office,  and  practically  gives  a  summary  of 
the  case  laid  before  the  House  by  the  respective  parties : — 

Articles  of  a  Bill  exhibited  in  Parliament  against  the  incorporation 
of  the  Merchant  Adventurers  of  the  city  of  Bristol,  and 
answers  unto  the  same.  [April  12,  1571-] 

First  Objection.  The  like  corporation  of  general  exemption  has 
not  been  found  to  continue  long  anywhere. 

Answer.  By  their  corporation,  no  man  is  exempted  that  ever 
occupied  the  seas,  but  such  as  voluntarily  sequestered  themselves 
from  the  same,  for  every  retailer,  leaving  off  his  retailing,  may  be  a 
merchant,  so  that  he  will  content  himself  with  the  only  trade  of 
merchandise,  whereas,  in  other  corporations,  they  cannot  be  so 

Second  Objection.  Prices  of  wares  are  enhanced,  and  are  dearer 
in  Bristol  than  in  any  place  in  England. 

Answer.  Foreign  wares  of  the  countries  to  which  we  traffic  are 
cheaper  in  Bristol  than  in  London,  as  appears  by  our  having  of  late 
brought  great  store  to  London,  where  we  have  sold  them,  notwith- 
standing the  carriage,  to  a  greater  benefit  than  we  could  have  done  in 
Bristol ;  at  present  they  are  better  and  cheaper  than  anywhere  else 
in  England. 

Third  Objection.    The  Navy  is  supposed  to  be  decayed. 

Answer.  Our  Navy  cannot  be  decayed  since  the  last  Parliament, 
but  much  increased,  for  we  have  built  nine  or  ten  new  ships  and 
barks,  bought  divers,  and  suffered  none  to  decay;  and  although  we 
have  lost  divers,  and  have  some  embargoed  in  Spain,  yet  we  have 


more  than  on  the  confirmation  of  our  patent,  and  twice  as  many 
serviceable  as  before,  as  the  Vice  Admiral  well  knows. 

Fourth  Objection.     The  Customs  are  supposed  to  be  decayed. 

Answer.  They  are  much  increased,  as  appears  by  a  copy  of  the 
Customs  books,  which  we  can  show. 

Fifth  Objection.  The  poor  craftsmen  are  not  set  to  work  as  they 
might  be. 

Answer.  On  the  year  that  the  intercourse  of  trade  was  open  to 
us,  we  adventured  400  more  cloths,  wrought  to  the  full  proof  by  the 
poor  craftsmen,  than  in  the  two  years  before,  and  so  they  have  had 
more  work  from  the  merchants  than  heretofore. 

Reasons  approving  our  corporation  to  be  for  the  commonwealth 
of  Bristol:  — 

The  rich  retailers,  as  the  grocer,  mercer,  haberdasher,  soapmaker, 
vintner,  &c.,  adventuring  themselves,  must  needs  undo  all  the  poorer 
sort  who  do  not  adventure,  and  eat  out  the  meer  merchants,  who 
have  but  those  to  whom  they  may  make  their  vent. 

Unskilfulness  in  merchandize,  and  great  numbers  going  over  on 
the  seas,  must  greatly  abase  our  English  commodities  and  advance 
the  price  of  foreign  wares ;  for  the  more  there  are  to  sell  there,  the 
worse  market  they  will  make,  and  the  more  buyers  of  strange  com- 
modities the  dearer  they  must  be. 

When  the  Navy  was  best  maintained  in  Bristol  there  were  not 
above  forty  merchants,  and  now  there  are  nearly  100,  and  less 
merchandize  to  be  vented  than  at  that  time,  for  iron  and  alum,  which 
were  usually  brought  from  thence,  are  now  made  better  and  cheaper 
in  England  than  in  Spain. 

It  is  injurious  to  him  who  has  served  seven  or  eight  years,  and 
was  apprenticed  to  a  merchant,  to  have  his  living  prejudiced  by  such 
as  are  ignorant  of  the  trade,  wherein  there  is  more  skill  than  every 
man  judges. 

A  merchant  cannot  be  a  retailer  for  want  of  skill  and  acquaintance 
of  customers,  which  requires  an  apprenticeship  to  bring  him  to  it ; 
neither  can  he  have  a  fit  place  to  dwell  in,  for  all  the  houses  that 
stand  in  place  of  retail  are  already  in  the  hands  of  retailers. 

No  retailer  at  any  time  has  built  any  shipping,  and  one  poor 
merchant  has  sustained  more  loss  in  the  service  of  the  Prince  than 
all  the  retailers  in  Bristol. 

All  the  benefits  done  by  townsmen  to  the  city  of  Bristol,  as  the 
erection  of  hospitals  and  freeholds,  giving  out  money  for  clothmaking, 
and  other  provisions  for  the  poor,  has  been  done  by  the  merchants 
only,  and  never  by  retailers,  or  any  other  sciences. 


The  retailers  were  never  in  better  state  in  Bristol;  the  meer 
merchants  were  never  so  many,  and  since  the  last  Parliament  very 
much  impoverished  by  the  restraint  of  the  intercourse  of  trade. 

The  Society's  opposition  did  not  prevent  the  progress 
of  the  Bill.  On  April  2ist  the  Select  Committee  returned 
the  measure  to  the  House  "  corrected  in  form  but  not  in 
substance."  The  preamble  recited  "  that  no  manner  of 
benefit  or  commodity  appeareth  to  grow  by  the  said  Act 
[of  1566]  to  the  commonweal,  or  otherwise  to  the 
universal  state  of  the  said  city  according  to  the  supposal 
of  the  said  Act,  but  contrariwise."  The  Society's 
supporters  made  another  effort  on  its  behalf  on  the  28th 
April,  when  "  after  many  arguments  "  the  Bill  was  read  a 
third  time  and  passed.  (Commons'  Journals.)  It  was  read 
a  first  time  in  the  House  of  Lords  on  May  2nd,  a  second 
time  on  the  I7th,  and  a  third  time  and  passed  on  the 
igth.  The  Royal  Assent  followed  shortly  afterwards. 
(Lords'  Journals.) 

Considering  the  great  importance  of  the  new  Act  to 
the  trading  classes  in  the  city  as  well  as  to  the  Society,  it 
is  an  astonishing  fact  that  no  reference  to  the  subject  is 
made  in  the  corporate  records  or  in  the  numerous  Bristol 
Calendars,  and  that  Mr.  Barrett,  Mr.  Seyer,  and  other 
local  historians  appear  to  have  been  unaware  that  such  a 
statute  was  passed,  the  matter  being  entirely  ignored  by 
them.  It  was  not,  indeed,  until  1833  that  the  Act  was 
disinterred  by  the  Municipal  Corporation  Commissioners, 
who  by  some  means  became  acquainted  with  the  facts. 
The  following  copy  of  the  enactment  has  been  transcribed 
literatim  from  the  Chancery  Rolls  in  the  Record  Office  :  — 

in  the  Parliament  holden  at  Westminster  in  the  eighth 
year  of  the  Queen's  Magesty  raigne  that  now  is  one  Acte  was  made 
entytuled  An  Acte  for  confirmation  of  letters  patente  graunted  to  the 
Merchaunt  Adventurs  of  the  Citie  of  Bristoll  In  whiche  Acte  it  is 


recited  That  the  late  King  of  famous  memory  Edward  the  Syxt  by 
his  graces  letters  patents  under  his  greate  seale  of  England  bearing 
date  at  Westminster  theight  daye  of  December  in  the  sixt  yeare 
of  his  graces  raigne  Did  incorporate  the  fellowship  of  the  said 
merchaunt  adventurers  by  the  name  of  Master,  Wardens  and 
comynaltie  of  the  mystery  or  arte  of  merchaunt  Adventurers  of  the 
citie  of  Bristoll  And  by  the  said  Ires  patents  graunted  unto  them  not 
onely  to  impleade  &  to  be  impleaded  by  the  said  name  but  also  dyvers 
other  liberties  Ordynances  pryvyledgs  and  aucthorities  as  by  the  said 
Ires  pattentes  more  at  larg  appeared  And  by  the  said  acte  it  was 
enacted  and  established  that  the  said  fellowship  and  Society  of 
Merchaunt  adventurers  should  be  incorporate  for  evermore  in 
suche  manner  and  wyse  and  by  suche  name  as  is  declared 
and  contayned  in  the  above  rehersed  Ires  patentes  of  our 
said  late  soveraigne  lord  King  Edward  the  syxte  And  that  the 
said  corporation  myght  evermore  thereafter  have  &  inioye  all 
such  liberties  ordynaunces  rules  pryvyledgs  and  aucthorities  as 
above  menconed  and  specyfied  in  the  said  Ires  patents  according 
to  the  words  sentences  true  intente  efFecte  &  meaning  of  the 
said  Ires  patents  to  all  intents  and  purposes  And  wheare  furthermore 
it  was  by  the  said  Acte  of  Parlyament  further  enacted  and  established 
that  no  man'  of  p'son  or  p'sons  dwelling  or  wh'  thereafter  sholde 
dwell  within  the  said  citie  of  Bristoll  or  the  suburbes  or  libertyes  of 
the  same  shold  after  a  certayn  tyme  in  the  same  Acte  mentioned  use 
or  exercise  by  hymself  or  by  any  other  to  recourse  or  trafficke  of  any 
merchaundize  beyond  the  Seas  unless  the  same  p'son  or  p'sons  weare 
then  made  or  thereafter  should  be  admitted  to  bee  of  the  said  Societie 
or  corporation  by  the  Master  and  Wardens  of  the  said  Corporation 
or  elles  that  he  or  they  had  been  or  thereafter  should  be  an  apprentise 
and  served  in  &  to  the  said  Arte  or  mystery  of  merchaunt  adventurers 
within  the  same  cyttie  or  lyberties  of  the  same  by  the  space  of  seaven 
yeres  uppon  payne  of  forfaiture  of  all  the  goods  &  merchaundize  that 
he  or  they  or  any  of  them  should  at  any  tyme  after  a  certen  daye  in 
the  same  Acte  expressed  so  use  carrye  transporte  or  conveye  to  or 
fro  beyond  the  Seas  contrarye  to  the  Tenour  aforesaid  Thone  moitye 
of  wh'  forfeyture  to  the  Queenes  Matle  her  heires  &  successors  and 
thother  moitie  to  be  dyvyded  betweene  the  said  corporation  and  the 
Chamber  of  the  said  cittye  of  Bristoll  aforesaid  And  that  yf  any 
p'son  or  p'sons  that  then  was  or  weare  or  that  thereafter  shold  be 
any  of  the  said  Corporation  of  Merchaunts  shold  at  any  tyme  after 
a  c'tayne  tyme  in  the  said  acte  mentyoned  use  or  exercyse  any  other 
science  mystery  art  or  occupacon  then  only  that  of  merchaunt 
adventurers  That  then  it  should  be  leyfull  to  and  for  the  said  Master 


and  Wardens  of  the  said  Corporation  for  the  tyme  beying  to  dysmysse 
expell  remove  and  cutt  of  &  out  of  the  said  socitye  or  corporation 
the  same  p'son  or  p'sons  wh'  so  should  use  any  other  science  mysterie 
or  occupation  then  only  of  Merchauntes  Adventurers  as  is  aforesaid  as 
in  the  said  Act  of  P'lyament  more  at  large  appeareth  Forasmuche 
as  the  like  Corporation  of  gen'all  exemption  hath  not  any  wheare 
ben  founde  to  be  suffered  long  to  contynewe  tho'  in  some  place 
attempted  and  nevertheles  uppon  the  experience  thereof  geven  over 
agayne  and  for  that  also  thexperience  thereof  hath  tought  that  no 
manner  of  benefit  or  comodytie  appeareth  to  growe  by  the  said  Arte 
[Act  ?]  to  the  comon  weale  or  otherwise  to  the  unyversall  state  of 
the  said  citye  of  Bristoll  according  to  the  supposell  of  the  said  acte 
but  contrarywyse  well  knowne  and  fownde  oute  that  sithen  the 
making  of  the  said  Acte  the  prices  of  all  manner  of  merchaundize 
have  ben  and  yet  are  much  enhanced  the  quenes  custome  as  is 
supposed  decreased  the  welth  of  the  citie  verie  much  consumed  and 
the  Navye  thereof  as  is  also  suggested  partly  decayed  for  that  a 
greate  many  of  welthye  inhabitantes  and  citizens  of  the  said  citie 
which  before  that  tyme  occupied  greate  stockes  were  thereby  cut  of 
from  the  trade  of  the  Seas  And  thereof  followith  that  the  poore 
craftes  men  are  not  wrought  as  they  might  be  to  the  greate  ruyn 
and  decaye  of  all  the  said  Cittye  and  of  thenhabitants  of  the  same 
and  to  the  greate  damage  of  the  countrye  envyroning  the  same  yf 
speedye  remedye  be  not  in  that  behalf  provyded  and  the  wonted 
libertye  of  the  said  citizens  thereof  to  trafficke  for  merchaundize 
beyond  the  Seas  fullye  restored  Bee  it  therefore  enacted  by  the 
Queenes  most  excellent  Matie  the  Lordes  Spirituall  &  temporall  and 
the  comons  in  this  present  P'lyament  assembled  and  by  thaucthoritye 
of  the  same  That  the  said  acte  be  from  henceforth  wholy  repealed 
and  utterlye  made  frustrate  voyde  and  of  none  effect  to  all  Intents 
&  purposes. 

It  is  satisfactory  to  be  able  to  show  the  precise  extent 
of  the  commercial  fleet  of  Bristol  about  the  period  when 
this  Act  was  under  deliberation.  The  Queen's  relations 
with  Philip  II.  of  Spain  being  in  a  critical  state,  the 
Government  ordered  the  officers  of  Customs  at  all  the 
ports  to  make  a  circumstantial  return  of  the  vessels 
belonging  to  each  place,  with  the  tonnage  of  the  ships. 
The  voluminous  statistics  in  the  Record  Office  are  dated 
1571-2.  London  had  then  one  merchant  ship  of  240 


tons — the  largest  in  the  kingdom ;  17  others  varied 
between  220  and  150  tons,  and  31  from  140  to  100  tons. 
Bristol,  standing  second  in  point  of  strength,  possessed 
one  ship  of  140  tons,  3  of  100  tons,  5  of  80  tons,  and  35 
of  60  to  20  tons.  (The  accuracy  of  William  Worcester's 
statement  that  William  Canynges  possessed  ships  of  900, 
500,  and  400  tons  a  century  earlier  may  be  left  to  the 
reader's  judgment.)  It  is  clear  that  the  commerce  of 
Bristol  was  at  a  low  ebb  in  the  reign  of  Elizabeth.  The 
port  contributed  33  ships  for  the  reconquest  of  Gascony 
in  1451.  In  1588,  when  the  country  was  in  deadly  peril 
from  the  Spanish  Armada,  only  three  ships  and  a  pinnace 
could  be  furnished  for  the  Royal  Navy. 

At  a  period  when  the  Corporation  and  even  the  small 
craft  guilds  kept  a  record  of  their  proceedings,  it  is 
impossible  to  suppose  that  the  transactions  of  a  Society 
comprising  the  best  educated  and  the  most  experienced 
business  men  in  the  city  could  have  been  less  carefully 
preserved.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  however,  no  proof  exists 
of  any  meeting  of  the  Society  from  the  date  of  its 
incorporation  in  1552  until  nearly  half  a  century  after- 
wards ;  and  although  officers  were  undoubtedly  elected 
annually,  the  names  of  the  only  four  Masters  known  to  us 
would  have  been  lost  but  for  their  occurrence  in  charters 
and  other  documents.  A  conjectural  explanation  of  this 
remarkable  hiatus  will  be  offered  later  on.  During  the 
long  period  of  darkness,  only  a  few  fitful  gleams  of  light 
are  obtainable  from  casual  State  Papers.  Trade  with 
Southern  France,  Spain,  and  Portugal  had  been  the 
main-spring  of  local  commerce  in  the  fifteenth  century 
and  for  many  years  afterwards.  In  the  reign  of  Elizabeth 
the  horrors  of  the  Spanish  Inquisition  and  the  massacre 
of  St.  Bartholomew  in  France  excited  a  passionate  thirst 
for  vengeance  in  the  breasts  of  English  Protestants,  and 


though  peace  long  existed  between  the  Queen  and  the 
Roman  Catholic  powers,  a  system,  which  can  be  described 
only  as  deliberate  piracy,  sprang  into  widespread  popu- 
larity, and  was,  in  many  instances,  notoriously  encouraged 
by  Elizabeth  herself,  who  not  only  instigated  the  adven- 
turers to  a  course  of  systematic  plundering,  but  often 
claimed  a  share  in  their  spoil.  Through  these  proceedings, 
the  legitimate  and  profitable  intercourse  of  Bristolians 
with  the  Spanish  ports  had  greatly  diminished  before  the 
actual  outbreak  of  hostilities  with  Philip  II.  As  regarded 
France,  local  commerce  was  in  little  better  condition. 
As  an  illustration  of  the  outrages  winked  at  by  the  Govern- 
ment, the  following  amongst  many  similar  documents  in 
the  Record  Office  may  be  taken  as  a  fair  specimen.  On 
June  6th,  1592,  the  deputy  of  the  inhabitants  of  Bayonne 
— one  of  the  chief  resorts  of  Bristol  ships — addressed  a 
letter  to  the  Privy  Council,  complaining  of  the  piracies  of 
English  subjects  in  spite  of  the  peace  between  the  two 
countries,  and  notifying  that,  being  unable  to  bear  such 
indignities  longer,  the  goods  and  persons  of  English 
merchants  at  Bayonne  would  be  proceeded  against  unless 
justice  were  done.  The  writer  proceeds  to  give  par- 
ticulars : — 

In  1591,  a  Bayonne  ship  from  Newfoundland  with  108,000 
dried  fish,  and  other  goods,  to  the  total  value  of  6,000  crowns, 
was  taken  by  a  ship  appointed  by  Sir  Walter  Raleigh,  and  taken 
to  Uphill,  near  Bristol;  and  though  the  owner  obtained  a  letter 
from  the  French  Court  to  the  Queen,  and  sent  over  two  men  for 
recovering  the  vessel,  his  agents  had  been  forced  to  fly  to  France 
to  save  their  lives,  being  threatened  by  the  crew  of  Raleigh's 
ship  and  certain  rich  merchants  of  Bristol,  who  had  received  and 
still  held  the  proceeds  of  the  merchandise.  Another  Bayonne  ship, 
with  200,000  fish,  had  been  captured  by  three  English  ships,  and 
taken  to  Bristol,  where  the  Englishmen,  several  dwelling  in  Bristol, 
sold  the  vessel  and  cargo,  value  7,000  crowns,  the  owner  being 
utterly  refused  relief,  and  consequently  ruined.  Other  captures,  of  a 
similar  kind,  were  estimated  to  be  of  the  value  of  50,000  crowns. 


There  is  no  evidence  that  the  sufferer  from  Raleigh's 
piracy  obtained  any  relief.  The  outrage  by  the  three 
Bristol  ships  was  found  to  be  so  discreditable  that  the 
Privy  Council  ordered  an  inquiry,  which  resulted  in  the 
shipowners  being  ordered  to  restore  the  captured  vessel 
and  half  of  the  fish,  and  to  pay  the  hapless  owner  £60. 
Yet  nothing  was  done,  and  nearly  a  year  afterwards  the 
Privy  Council  wrote  to  the  Mayor  and  Aldermen,  ordering 
that  the  unfortunate  man  should  receive  satisfaction,  and 
pointing  out  that  further  delay  would  provoke  the  French 
King  to  grant  letters  of  marque  for  the  harrying  of  Bristol 
vessels.  The  civic  reply  is  missing. 

It  was  impossible  for  a  commercial  city  to  flourish 
under  these  circumstances,  and  a  document  has  been 
fortunately  preserved  in  the  Society's  "  Book  of  Trade" 
which,  though  evidently  marred  by  querulousness  and 
exaggeration,  affords  trustworthy  evidence  of  the  prostra- 
tion of  commerce  and  industry.  In  1595  the  Privy 
Council  sent  down  a  mandate  requiring  Bristol  to  find 
and  equip  three  ships  towards  a  fleet  then  being  prepared 
to  suppress  the  ravages  of  Spanish  ships  of  war  and 
Dunkirk  privateers,  then  swarming  in  the  English 
Channel;  whereupon  the  Corporation  and  the  Merchants 
drew  up  and  forwarded  a  lengthy  account  of  the  condition 
of  local  affairs.  The  following  is  a  summary  : — 

Having  stated  that  the  Privy  Council's  letter  had  been  maturely 
considered,  the  writers  thank  the  Queen  for  her  continued  care  of 
her  subjects,  and  the  Council  for  its  efforts;  but  having  considered 
the  fortunes  of  this  (now  poor)  place,  they  find  its  condition  so 
changed  of  late  as  to  be  unable  to  bear  the  burden  of  the 
suggested  contribution.  To  explain  the  causes  of  the  city's  decay, 
they  state  that  Bristol  had  formerly  a  free  traffic  into  the  Straits, 
securing  much  increase  in  wealth,  shipping,  and  provisions;  but 
this  trade  the  Londoners  had  so  interrupted  and  monopolised  that 
if  the  writers  trade  there,  they  are  forced  to  compound  therefor 
"at  very  near  a  quarter  part,  and  so  enrich  them  with  our  labour 


and  adventure,"  whilst  prices  are  raised  and  trade  reduced ; 
especially  since  the  Londoners  by  conveying  their  wares  by  cloth 
wains  at  an  easy  rate,  and  giving  great  time  (which  their  riches 
may  bear)  draw  customers  within  ten  miles  of  Bristol,  "  and  might 
sell  better  cheap,  but  keep  up  our  prices,  gaining  thereby  clearly 
a  fourth  part,  which  is  our  composition,  whereby  we  wanting 
vent  cannot  gain  by  any  possible  adventure."  Similarly,  Bristol 
had  formerly  a  good  trade  with  Spain  in  which  20  or  30  tall 
ships  were  employed — now  reduced  to  8  or  10  small  ships,  the 
Spanish  embargo  and  English  reprisals  having  undone  this  trade. 
Through  these  difficulties  the  writers  fear  they  shall  be  forced  to 
ask  permission  to  sell  their  ships  to  strangers,  "  as  strangers  more 
than  we  bring  commodities  inwards,"  and  by  paying  double 
Customs  cause  the  Customs  books  to  show  apparent  prosperity 
in  the  city ;  whilst  under  cover  to  pay  debts  in  London,  &c., 
these  strangers  exchange  their  money  thither,  and  do  not  export 
Bristol  wares,  whereby  manufactures  are  towards  an  utter  over- 
throw. Through  the  decline  of  these  trades,  the  chief  local 
merchants,  losing  hope  in  continuing  here,  bestow  their  money  in 
country  purchases,  and  have  removed  there  their  widows  (sic}  and 
daughters,  transporting  much  Bristol  money  with  them,  while  the 
meaner  sort  have  spent  what  they  had,  or  at  best  are  trading 
without  advantage,  and  the  artisans  lie  without  profitable  employ- 
ment. London,  having  infinitely  increased  by  our  and  others' 
ruin,  possesses  almost  the  only  trade;  the  eagle  followeth  the 
carcase,  and  no  wonder  the  enemy  so  often  falls  upon  them, 
seeing  that  they  seldom  encounter  others.  But  that  they,  wealthy 
and  strong,  should  meanly  press  the  Queen  and  our  poor  purses 
to  secure  their  own  gains  is  surely  a  great  wonder.  Heretofore 
Bristolians  had  joined  with  them  in  protecting  the  Bordeaux  fleet, 
but  they  had  only  served  their  own  turns  without  respect  to  ours. 
The  defence  of  the  east  and  south  coasts  mainly  concerns  London 
traders,  who  have  constant  traffic  with  Normandy  and  Brittany ; 
but  Bristolians,  having  no  trade  in  these  parts,  cannot  reasonably 
be  asked  to  consume  in  contributions  the  last  ruins  of  their  poor 
fortunes.  The  city  has  diligently  served  in  protecting  trade  with 
Ireland,  Portugal,  and  Cadiz  without  grudge  or  complaint.  Having 
laid  these  considerations  before  the  Council,  the  writers  hope  that 
they  will  not  be  treated  as  aliens  in  their  own  country,  but  being 
the  common  children  of  one  glorious  mother  may  receive  alike 
favourable  treatment.  "  Wherefore  we  pray  that  our  sighs  may 
be  heard,  and  that  the  Londoners  may  be  commanded  to  receive 
us  into  a  community  of  trade,"  expressing  willingness  thereupon 


to  assist  them  in  all  public  causes.  In  the  meantime,  though 
there  is  no  general  inclination  to  contribute,  yet  the  abler  sort  show 
willingness  to  strain  to  their  uttermost  for  a  cause  of  this  con- 
sequence. The  letter  ends  with  assurances  of  zeal  for  the  country's 
service,  and  of  affection  for  her  Majesty. 

The  Privy  Council,  evidently  believing  that  the 
Bristolians  "  protested  too  much,"  refused  to  abate  its 
demands.  Whereupon  the  citizens  somehow  found  means 
to  hire,  equip,  and  man  the  three  ships,  which  took  part 
in  the  expedition  to  Cadiz,  and  also  paid  the  wages  of  the 
crews  on  their  return,  the  total  outlay  being  stated  at 
^2,500.  The  Privy  Council  was  so  highly  pleased  with 
these  patriotic  exertions  that  they  called  upon  the  deputy- 
lieutenants  of  Somerset  to  raise  a  contribution  of  £600 
towards  the  relief  of  the  citizens ;  and  though  the  county 
gentry  made  protracted  efforts  to  wriggle  out  of  the  charge, 
they  were  doubtless  compelled  to  submit.  (Privy  Council 

A  few  years  after  the  above  Jeremiad  was  penned  the 
Society  became  practically  moribund,  and  some  of  its 
more  enterprising  members,  of  whom  the  philanthropic 
John  Whitson  was  perhaps  the  most  prominent,  became 
members  of  a  Spanish  Company*  in  London,  that  had 
obtained  a  charter  of  incorporation  from  Queen  Elizabeth, 
and  traded  in  conjunction  with  it.  Doubtless  with  a  view 
to  assist  the  embarrassed  Society,  the  Corporation,  on 
September  2oth,  1601,  granted  them  a  lease,  for  90  years, 
at  a  rent  of  ^3  6s.  Sd.t  of  "  all  those  duties  which  are 
usually  and  of  right  ought  to  be  taken  of  all  ships, 
barques,  and  other  vessels  whatsoever  arriving  within  the 
port  for  anchorage,  cannage,  and  plankage,"  on  the  lessees 
covenanting  to  find  sufficient  planks,  and  to  keep  clean 

*  Having  no  armorial  bearings  of  his  own,  Whitson  sculptured  the  arms  of  this 
Company  on  the  grand  mantelpiece  of  his  dwelling.  This  is  now  in  the  Red 
Maids'  School. 


the  slip  at  Hungroad.  It  would  appear  from  the  civic 
Audit  Books,  however,  that  this  was  merely  a  renewal  of 
a  former  lease  of  those  dues,  granted  about  1570,  and 
later  statistics  prove  that  the  profits  must  have  been 
too  small  to  render  much  effectual  aid.  The  situation 
becoming  gradually  more  critical,  and  the  subordination 
of  some  of  the  Society's  members  to  a  London  fraternity 
being  decidedly  unpopular,  the  Corporation  on  December 
3ist,  1605,  once  more  undertook  a  complete  mercantile 
reorganisation.  Practically  ignoring  the  Society's  charters, 
or  claiming  under  them  the  "  rights "  they  reserved  to 
''the  Mayor/'  it  was  resolved  by  the  Common  Council: — 

That  the  Merchant  Adventurers  of  this  city  shall  exempt 
themselves  from  the  Company  and  government  of  the  Merchant 
Adventurers  of  London  trading  with  Spain  and  Portugal,  and 
that  there  shall  be  a  Company  of  Merchant  Adventurers  of  the 
city  of  Bristol  continued  and  established  in  the  same  city,  to  be 
ordered  and  governed  amongst  themselves  by  such  orders,  constitu- 
tions and  policies  as  shall  hereafter  be  set  down  and  agreed  upon 
by  the  Mayor,  Aldermen,  and  Common  Council  according  to  the 
charters  of  the  said  city.  And  that  every  burgess  of  this  city  which 
is  or  shall  be  willing  and  desirous  to  be  of  the  said  Company  of 
Merchants,  and  to  use  the  trade  of  merchandise,  shall  be  admitted 
into  the  same  Company,  paying  205.  as  a  fine  to  the  use  of  the 
same  Company,  and  giving  over  the  exercise  of  all  other  trades, 
occupations,  and  professions  of  getting  his  or  their  living.  And 
all  other  merchants  of  the  city  which  are  already  free  of  the  same 
Company  shall  pay  towards  the  contribution  of  the  same  Company 
only  65.  8d.  Provided  always  that  any  others  who  shall  not  be 
admitted  into  the  said  Company  within  the  space  of  one  year  But 
shall  be  desirous  to  be  admitted  after  the  space  of  one  year  next 
ensuing,  shall  pay  for  his  admittance  as  is  paid  in  like  cases  in 
London.  Except  only  such  persons  as  are  or  shall  be  of  the 
Common  Council,  who  shall  pay  only  205.  and  no  more  to  the  use 
of  the  said  Company  at  what  time  soever  any  such  person  being 
of  the  Common  Council  shall  be  admitted  into  the  said  Company. 
And  all  the  sons  and  apprentices  of  every  freeman  of  the  said 
Company  shall  pay  only  65.  8d.  for  his  admittance  at  any  time 
hereafter,  being  brought  up  in  the  trade  of  merchandise.  And  this 


day  Mr.  William  Hicks  (Alderman)  is  chosen  and  appointed  to  be 
Treasurer  for  the  said  Company,  to  receive  the  fines  and  contri- 
butions of  the  same  Company.  And  that  Mr.  John  Hopkins,  Mr. 
William  Vawer,  and  Mr.  John  Whitson,  Aldermen,  are  appointed 
to  admit  any  into  the  said  Company  that  shall  be  hereafter  desirous 
to  be  admitted  according  to  this  present  Ordinance.  And  every 
man  to  bring  in  his  fine  by  the  I5th  of  the  month  of  January  next. 
(Corporate  Minute  Book.) 

Having  made  the  above  Ordinance,  the  Common 
Council  proceeded  to  appoint  Alderman  John  Hopkins 
as  Master  and  Aldermen  Vawer  and  Whitson  as 
Wardens  "of  the  Company  of  Merchants."  (Hopkins 
had  been  appointed  Master  of  the  Society  in  the  previous 
May.)  William  Flook  [Fleet?],  merchant,  was  appointed 
collector  of  the  fines  and  contributions  of  the  Company, 
which  he  was  directed  to  bring  in  to  the  Treasurer.  And 
Matthew  Haviland,  Robert  Aldworth,  John  Rowbero, 
John  Aldworth,  John  Roberts,  Thomas  Aldworth,  John 
Butcher,  John  Eglesfield,  William  Gary,  Robert  Rogers, 
Thomas  Moore,  and  Arthur  Needs  (probably  all  old 
members)  were  appointed  "committees  for  the  Merchants' 

The  infusion  of  new  blood  effected  under  the  above 
thorough-going  Ordinance  endowed  the  Society  with  a 
vigour  that  it  had  never  before  possessed.  Having  taken 
the  matter  in  hand,  moreover,  the  Corporation  resolved 
on  further  measures  to  ensure  that  the  recovery  should  be 
not  only  complete  but  lasting.  On  May  2Oth,  1606,  the 
Common  Council  resolved  that  every  citizen  of  London 
importing  or  exporting  goods  at  Bristol  should  pay  the 
same  dues  for  weighage  and  wharfage  that  Bristol 
merchants  did  in  London.  And  as  there  were  no  wharf- 
age dues  then  payable  in  Bristol,  it  was  further  resolved 
that  every  person,  not  being  a  free  burgess  of  Bristol, 
should  thenceforth  pay  sixpence  per  ton  for  every  ton  of 


goods  shipped  or  landed  in  this  port,  "  which  money  shall 
be  paid  for  and  in  the  name  of  wharfage,  and  be  employed 
for  and  toward  the  reparation  of  the  Key  and  Back  " — 
salt,  corn,  fish,  coals,  and  goods  brought  coastwise  in 
trows  and  small  boats  being  exempted  from  the  impost. 
(Corporate  Minutes.)  On  June  3Oth,  1606,  the  Mayor 
and  Corporation  gave  authority  to  Emanuel  Ashe  and 
John  Conning,  two  members  of  the  Society,  to  collect 
the  new  dues  during  pleasure,  the  document  asserting 
that,  although  .£1,500  had  been  spent  on  the  quays  "of 
late  years,"  they  were  in  great  decay  and  want  of  repair, 
and  that  their  restoration  could  not  be  effected  except  by 
levying  duties  on  goods  laden  or  discharged.  (Society's 
Book  of  Trade.)  There  can  be  little  doubt,  however, 
that  the  real  object  of  the  Corporation  was  to  establish 
the  Society  on  a  sound  financial  basis.  Such,  at  all 
events,  was  the  origin  of  the  Wharfage  Dues,  with  which 
the  Society  were  identified  for  more  than  two  centuries 
and  a  half. 

It  will  be  observed  that  the  charge  was  originally 
designed  to  affect  non-freemen  exclusively ;  but  this 
intention  was  soon  tacitly  abandoned,  for  the  Common 
Council  resolved  in  the  following  February  to  apply 
through  the  members  of  Parliament  for  the  city  for  the 
consent  of  the  Crown  to  the  imposition,  "to  be  paid  for 
all  forms  of  merchandise  ...  as  well  by  all  strangers 
or  foreigners  as  citizens  and  burgesses  of  this  city."  It 
may  be  assumed  that  the  King's  confirmation  was 
obtained,  though  the  fact  is  nowhere  recorded.  However 
that  may  be,  the  Corporation  gave  authority,  during 
pleasure,  to  William  Fleet  (the  merchant  previously 
appointed  to  gather  in  the  Society's  contributions)  to 
collect  the  due,  which  he  would  conveniently  do  in  con- 
junction with  the  charges  for  anchorage,  &c.,  already  in 



the  Society's  hands.  Amongst  the  civic  receipts  for  the 
year  ending  Michaelmas,  1607,  were  £50  "received  from 
Mr.  Alderman  Whitson  [then  Master]  for  money  that  he 
received  for  Wharfage."  Three  years  later,  ^50  were 
again  paid  in  by  the  Alderman  "for  part  of  the  Wharfage 
money."  And  £40  more  were  received  in  the  same  way 
from  Alderman  Conning  in  1611.  This  was  the  last 
payment  made  to  the  city  Treasurer,  and  the  total  profits 
of  the  due  were  afterwards  allowed  to  be  retained  by 
the  Society,  which  was  thereby  placed  in  a  prosperous 
condition.  The  precarious  nature  of  the  arrangement 
induced  the  Hall,  in  1623-4,  to  appoint  a  committee  "  to 
be  suitors  to  the  Corporation  for  a  lease  of  the  wharfage 
dues,"  but  so  far  as  can  be  discovered  the  application 
fell  stillborn.  It  was  not,  indeed,  until  1661  that  the 
Society's  wishes  were  realised.  (See  post.) 

In  April,  1612,  the  Corporation,  repenting  of  its 
opposition  to  the  Act  of  1566,  or  swayed  by  the 
mercantile  element  which  had  recovered  its  former 
ascendency,  passed  a  resolution  granting  the  Society 
permission  to  make  Ordinances,  by  virtue  of  their  charters, 
forbidding  any  member  to  exercise  a  trade  other  than  that 
of  a  merchant  adventurer,  and  interdicting  any  burgess, 
save  a  member,  from  using  the  trade  of  a  merchant 
adventurer.  The  Society  were  directed  to  produce  such 
Ordinances  for  the  consideration  and  approval  of  the 
Common  Council.  This  was  accordingly  done  in  the 
following  August,  when  the  new  Ordinances  were  con- 
firmed. So  far  as  can  be  traced,  this  was  the  last  occasion 
on  which  the  Corporation  claimed  a  right  to  interfere  in 
the  Society's  affairs. 

At  a  meeting  of  the  Society  on  July  6th,  1618, 
an  "  Act "  was  passed,  couched  in  the  following 
terms : — 


Hit  HCtC  that  the  ordinaunce  and  decrees  of  the  Societie  of 
marchante  Adventurers  of  the  Citty  of  Bristoll  shalbee 
perused,  revised,  and  put  in  execucon,  and  that  noe  person 
shalbee  reputed  to  bee  of  the  Company  onlesse  hee  bee  first 
admitted  in  open  Courte,  and  then  entred  into  the  Register 
of  the  saide  Societie. 

that  att  a  generall  Courte  of  the  Maister 
Wardeins  and  Commynaltie  of  the  Arte  or  Misterie  of  marchaunte 
Adventurers  of  the  Citty  of  Bristoll  houlden  the  sixte  day  of  Julie 
1618  Yt  is  enacted  and  Ordeyned  that  Mr.  John  Barker  nowe 
Maister  of  the  saide  Arte  or  Misterie,  with  the  Assistance  of  Mr. 
John  Langton,  Humfrye  Hooke,  Richard  Holworthie,  William  Jones, 
Humfrey  Browne,  'and  Thomas  Colston  mchants,  shall  pervse  the 
Ordinaunce  and  Lawes  heretofore  made  for  the  Rule  and  governance 
of  the  saide  Arte  or  Misterie  :  And  shall  collect  and  gather  such  of 
the  same  Ordinaunce  and  lawes,  and  ordeyne  and  appointe  other 
ordinaunce  and  lawes  for  the  better  governement  of  the  Commynaltie 
of  the  same  Arte  or  Misterie  as  to  them  shall  seeme  convenient 
accordinge  to  the  tyme  and  recourse  of  marchandice  now  vsed  in 
the  Citty  of  Bristoll  :  Hltfc  for  that  expresse  mention  is  made  in  and 
by  the  seuerall  Ordinaunce  Charters  and  letters  pattente  graunted  to 
the  maister  wardeyns  and  Comynaltie  of  the  saide  Arte  or  Misterie 
That  noe  manner  of  person  or  persons  dwelling  or  that  shall  dwell 
within  the  saide  Citty  of  Bristoll,  the  Subburbes  or  Liberties  of  the 
same,  shall  vse  or  exercise  the  recourse  or  trafficke  of  marchandise 
beyond  the  seas  vnlesse  they  bee  admitted  into  the  saide  Societie 
as  by  the  same  Ordinaunce  Charters  and  Letters  Pattente  may 
appeare  ]J)t  is  therefore  this  daie  alsoe  ordeyned  enacted  and  estab- 
lished that  noe  manner  of  person  or  persons  whetsoever  inhabitinge 
or  dwelling  within  the  saide  Citty  of  Bristoll  or  the  Subburbes  or 
Liberties  of  the  same  shalbee  reputed  nor  taken  to  bee  of  the  saide 
Societie  vnlesse  hee  will  subscribe  to  the  Ordinance  of  the  saide 
Company,  and  shalbee  admitted  in  open  Courte,  and  his  or  theire 
name  and  names  entred  and  recorded  into  the  Lyste  or  Register  of 
the  saide  Societie,  in  the  presence  of  the  Maister  Wardeins  and 
Assistants  of  the  saide  Arte  or  Misterie  for  the  tyme  beinge,  or 
the  moste  parte  of  them  Httb  tbftt  they  and  every  of  them  shall 
well  and  truely  observe  perform  fulfill  holde  and  keepe  not  onely 
all  the  Acts  Ordinances  Statutes  and  decrees  wch  they  the  saide 
John  Barker,  John  Langton,  Humfrey  Hooke,  Richard  Holworthie, 
William  Jones,  Humfrey  Browne,  and  Thomas  Colston  shall  collect 
or  make  and  present  to  the  Maister  Wardeyns  and  Comynaltie  of 
the  said  Arte  or  Misterie  at  theire  next  generall  Assemblie  but  alsoe 


all  other  Acts  Ordinaunces  and  decrees  wch  by  the  Maister  Wardeyns 
and  Comynaltie  of  the  said  Arte  or  Misterie  for  the  tyme  beinge 
shalbee  made  decreed  and  agreed  uppon. 

The  committee  appointed  by  this  instrument  devoted 
four  months  to  the  fulfilment  of  their  instructions,  and 
presented  the  result  of  their  deliberations  to  a  Hall  held 
on  November  I7th,  1618,  when  the  following  Code  appears 
to  have  been  unanimously  approved  and  confirmed  :  — 

HCteS  ©rfcinaunceS  &  H)ecree0  of  the  Maister  Wardeyns- 
and  Comynaltie  of  the  Arte  or  Misterie  of  Marchaunte 
Aduenturers  of  the  Citty  of  Bristoll,  as  they  were  collected 
perused  &  revised  by  Mr.  John  Barker,  John  Langton, 
Humfrey  Hooke,  Richard  Holworthie,  William  Jones, 
Humfrye  Browne,  and  Thomas  Colston  according  to  the 
late  Order  in  that  behalfe  made,  and  presented  att  a 
generall  Courte  of  the  saide  Societie  holden  the  xvijth 
day  of  November  Anno  Dni  1618,  and  then  approved 
allowed  and  enioyned  by  the  Maister  Wardeins  &  Comynalty 
of  the  saide  Arte  or  Misterie  to  bee  in  all  points  observed 
performed  holden  and  kept  by  euerie  brother  of  the  saide 
Companie,  as  followeth. 

Ube  ©fflce  of  tbe  flDateter  ano  Warfceins. 

The  Maister  and  Wardeyns  shall  (to  theire  vttermoste  power) 
Oversee,  rule,  and  gouerne  the  saide  Misterie  and  Comynaltie,  and 
all  the  men  occupiers,  dealers,  factors,  wares,  and  marchandices  of 
the  same,  and  shall  supporte  and  maynteyne  (by  theire  best  skill 
knowledge  and  endeavours)  the  Affaires  thereof,  and  all  the  Actes 
Ordinaunces  and  priviledges  which  are  or  shalbee  made  for  the  Rule 
and  government  of  the  saide  Misterie  and  Comynaltie,  and  shall  doe 
righte  and  Justice  to  all  persons  in  all  matters  and  questions  (that 
shall  depend  before  them)  without  favour  or  affection  Malice  or 
Displeasure,  haveing  noe  singuler  respect  to  themselves,  in  deroga- 
tion of  the  Common  Wealth  of  the  saide  Comynaltie  And  alsoe  to 
theire  power  shall  assist  all  the  Officers  of  the  saide  Misterie  & 
Commynaltie  intill  theire  lawfull  and  just  doeinge,  toucheinge  or 
concerning  the  maynteynance  and  supporte  of  the  graunte  and 
Ordinance  made  or  to  bee  made  by  force  of  the  Charters  or  Letters 
pattente  of  the  Maister  Wardeyns  and  Comynaltie  of  the  saide  Arte 
or  Misterie  JteiH  that  euerie  person  and  persons  wch  shalbee 


chosen  Maister  or  Wardeyns  of  the  saide  Arte  or  Misterie,  and 
shall  refuse  to  execute  the  same,  haueinge  noe  lawfull  cause  soe 
to  doe,  shall  forfaite  &  pay  to  the  use  of  this  Societie  the  somme 
of  xxli. 

Ube  (Mice  of  tbe  ttreasourour* 

ITbC  ZTteaSOUVOUt  shall  yeerely  at  the  tyme  of  his  Election, 
or  at  the  next  Courte  then  after,  become  bound  with  one  sufficient 
suretie  to  bee  allowed  of  by  the  maister  and  wardeyns,  to  make  and 
giue  a  iust  and  true  accompt  vnto  the  succedinge  Treasourour  of  all 
such  money  as  he  shall  receyve  to  the  vse  of  the  saide  Societie,  and 
to  redeliver  the  Ordinaunces,  Charters,  Letters  pattente  and  other 
writinges  of  the  said  Societie  (wch  shalbee  in  his  power)  vnto  the 
next  succedinge  Treasourour. 

1bCC  Sbrtll  duringe  his  Office  vse  all  diligence  to  levye  and 
receyve  All  manner  of  debts  dueties  forfeitures,  brocks,  and  fines 
belonging  to  the  Company,  and  attend  att  euerie  Courte  (being 
summoned)  without  speciall  lycence  to  the  contrary  vppon  paine 
of  vs.  to  bee  forfeited  of  and  for  euerie  such  his  defaulte. 

Jj)t  ailtC  person  bee  indebted  to  the  Company  and  shall  refuse  to 
pay  the  Treasourour  the  some  due  (hee  requireinge  the  same)  the 
Treasourour  shall  informe  the  maister  and  wardeyns  thereof,  whoe 
by  thaduise  of  the  Assistants  shall  take  order  for  the  Leavieng  of 
the  same. 

l^f  ante  presentment  bee  made  to  the  Treasourour  of  anie 
offence  comitted  against  the  Ordinaunces,  or  anie  of  them,  hee 
shall  Cause  the  same  to  bee  registred  into  a  booke,  therefore  to  bee 
appointed,  but  shall  not  bewray  the  name  of  the  presenter  to  anie 
pson,  but  to  the  Mr  or  Wardeins,  vnlesse  the  person  presented  shall 
in  open  Courte  require  to  knowe  his  accuser,  and  then  the  person 
presentinge  shall  iustifie  his  presentment  in  Courte. 

Ifoce  Sball  also  receyve  of  the  Beadle  the  absence  money  and 
alsoe  all  such  money  as  shall  growe  due  from  the  Beadle  for  the 
Wharfadge,  Keyadge,  planckadge,  and  other  dueties  wch  hee  is 
appointed  to  receyve  &  shall  chardge  his  accompt  therewith. 

1beC  Sball  att  the  next  generall  Courte  after  hee  shalbee  dis- 
missed from  the  Office  of  Treasourour  exhibite  his  accompte  of  all 
the  money  that  hee  hath  receyved  and  paide  duringe  his  Office  to 
or  for  the  vse  of  the  saide  Company. 

1bCC  Sball  yeeld  vpp  his  accompt  before  Auditors  assigned  for 
that  purpose,  and  deliuer  to  his  Successour  All  such  money  as  by 
the  same  accompt  shalbee  found  to  remayne  in  his  handes,  and  that 
within  tenn  daies  next  after  the  Auditing  thereof. 


JEUCltC  pcr801t  chosen  Treasourour  and  refusing  it  without 
lawfull  Cause  shewed  to  the  Contrary  shall  forfaite  and  loose  the 
somme  of  tenne  pounds. 

TTbe  ©tHce  of  tbe  Clarfee. 

ZTbe  GlarflC  of  this  Companie  shalbee  diligent  and  attendant 
vppon  the  Maister  Wardeins  and  Treasourour  att  all  tymes  requisite 
and  appointed,  for  matters  touchinge  the  Companie. 

1bCC  Sball  obey  the  Commaundement  of  the  Maister  Wardeyns 
and  Treasourour  concerninge  the  Affaires,  busines,  and  availes  of 
the  Company. 

"JbCC  SbalbeC  of  honest  and  courteous  behaviour  towardes  the 
Mr,  Wardeins  and  Treasourour,  and  all  others  of  the  Felowshippe. 

1bC6  Sball  make  due  and  true  reporte  of  any  thinge  belonging 
to  his  Charge  and  Office  when  hee  shalbee  required. 

IfoCC  Sball  write  and  register  all  acts  that  shalbee  made, 
incontinent  after  they  bee  concluded. 

1bCC  1tia$  in  the  Pamphlett  or  Declaracon  of  anie  Acte  amend 
the  phrase  or  enditinge,  by  takeing,  adding,  or  altering  any  Wordes, 
soe  as  the  meaninge  bee  not  altered,  and  that  the  amendement  bee 
read  att  the  next  Courte,  and  bee  confirmed  if  it  bee  liked. 

1bee  Sball  at  the  end  of  euery  Courte  (generall,  or  of  the 
Assistants)  read  that  which  passed  that  daie,  and  at  the  next 
Courte  hee  shall  read  againe  that  which  passed  at  the  laste  Courte 
(ymediately  before  the  entringe  into  the  matter  of  the  Courte)  to  the 
intent  it  may  bee  ratified,  or  disanulled  as  the  Company  shall  finde 

IDCC  Sball  haue  for  his  yeerely  Fee  or  Salarie  the  sume  of 
Power  poundes  to  bee  quarterlie  paide  by  the  Treasourour  or  Beadle. 

TTbe  ©ffice  of  tbe  Beaole. 

ZIbe  3BeaOle  shall  give  diligent  Attendance  vppon  the  Wardeyns 
and  Treasourour,  and  theire  Commaundements  touching  the  businesse 
or  Affaires  of  the  Company  hee  shall  observe  and  obey  to  his  power. 

1bee  Sball  (according  to  directions  given  him)  summone  and 
warne  the  Companie  to  appeare  and  meete  att  all  tymes,  and  in 
all  places  appointed. 

IfoeC  Sball  euerie  Courte,  as  well  of  Assistaunts  as  generality 
keepe  a  noate  to  the  best  of  his  power  whoe  shalbee  absent  (being 
lawfully  warned)  or  whoe  cometh  late,  halfe  an  hower  after  the 
first  sittinge  of  the  Maister,  or  after  tyme  warned  to  appeare  And 
at  the  next  Courte  deliver  theire  names  to  the  Treasourour. 


1foee  Shall  demaund  of  euerie  person  that  maketh  defaulte  at 
anie  Courte  generall  or  of  Assistants,  or  cometh  late  to  either  of 
them,  such  fine  as  (by  the  ordinaunce)  is  due  for  his  defaulte  or 

flDCC  Sball  informe  the  Maister  and  Wardeins  or  Treasourour 
of  euerie  person  that  shall  refuse,  or  doe  not  paie  to  him,  such 
somme  of  money  as  is  due  for  his  defaulte  or  absence. 

Ibee  alSOe  shall  informe  the  Mr  and  Wardeyns  or  Treasourour 
of  all  offences  done  against  anie  the  Actes  or  Ordinaunce  whereof 
hee  shall  have  anie  knowledge. 

H?f  bee  shall  have  knowledge  of  anie  offence  done  against 
anie  of  the  Ordinaunces  or  Actes  and  doth  not  within  xiiij  daies 
next  after  such  his  knowledge  thereof  disclose  and  vtter  the  same  to 
the  Maister  and  wardeyns  or  Treasourour,  hee  shall  forfaite  his  Office. 

1ftee  6ball  collect  and  receyve  the  keyadge,  planckadge,  and  all 
other  dueties  and  Somes  of  money  given  vnto  him  in  charge  con- 
cerning the  Company,  and  shall  repay  the  same  to  the  Treasourour 
and  bee  accomptable  therefore  when  hee  shalbee  therevnto  required. 

Ibee  Sball  monethly  deliver  to  the  Treasourour  such  somes  of 
money  as  hee  shall  receyve  for  absence,  or  late  comminge  to  the 
Courte,  and  shalbee  allowed  for  his  collection  thereof  ijs.  in  every 
xxs.  over  and  above  his  yeerely  Salarie  and  soe  after  the  Rate. 

1bee  Sball  have  for  his  yeerely  Fee  or  Salarie  the  somme  of 
vjli.  xiijs.  iiijd.  to  bee  paide  out  of  his  Collections. 

Hn  ©I'oinaunce  concerning  tbe  number  of  Hsstetantes, 
tbeire  ©ffice  anb  place* 

'ftbece  Sbalbee  twelve  of  the  moste  discreet  wise  and  worthie 
men  of  the  Societie  elected  and  chosen  yeerely  to  bee  Assistants 
and  Helpers  to  the  Maister  Wardeins  and  Treasourour  of  the 
saide  Company  in  theire  severall  Offices,  whoe  shall  by  and  with 
theire  best  Counsell  knowledge  power  and  skill,  suporte  the  Affaires 
of  the  Companie,  and  helpe  and  assiste  them  in  all  matters  and 
busines  concerneing  the  order  rule  and  quiet  governement  as  well 
of  the  saide  Felowshippe,  as  of  theire  goods  and  marchandice, 
without  anie  singuler  regard  to  themselves  in  derogacon  of  the 
Common  Weale  of  the  saide  Company,  And  shall  to  theire  vtter- 
moste  power  supporte  and  observe  the  priviledgs  graunts  and 
Ordinauncs  of  this  Societie  made  or  to  bee  made,  without  consenting 
to  the  breach  or  violacon  of  anie  of  them,  without  the  Common 
Consent  of  the  Company.  Righte  and  Justice  they  shall  doe  to 
theire  power  vnto  all  persons  in  all  matters  and  questions  depending 
before  them,  without  favour,  affection,  or  displeasure. 


HllO  being  soe  chosen,  every  of  them  shall  remayne  in  the 
same  Office,  and  bee  reputed  an  Assistant  of  the  saide  Maister 
and  Wardens  during  one  whole  yeere  or  during  soe  long  tyme  as 
the  Maister  Wardeins  and  residue  of  the  saide  assistants,  or  the 
more  parte  of  them,  shall  find  and  approve  him  capable  of  such 
degree  and  place  And  that  vppon  the  avoydance  of  anie  of  the 
saide  Assistants  from  the  saide  Office,  there  shalbee  other  discreete 
wise  and  worthie  men  of  the  saide  Company  elected  and  chosen 
in  theire  places  And  soe  like  choise  to  bee  made  from  tyme  to 
tyme  for  ever  HttO  tbflt  the  Maister  Wardens  Treasourour  and 
Assistants  for  the  tyme  beinge,  or  as  many  of  them  as  shalbee 
necessarie  (whereof  the  Maister  Wardeins  and  Treasourour  to  bee 
of  the  nomber)  may  assemble  and  meete  together  as  often  as  they 
shall  please  in  the  Common  Hall  of  the  saide  Company,  and  there 
kepe  Courte,  discourse,  treate  of,  and  conclude  the  matters,  dealinges, 
and  busines  of  the  saide  Societie,  and  therein  give  order  and  sett 
directions  for  the  good  and  benefitt  of  the  saide  Society  in  such 
manner,  and  to  such  purpose  as  in  theire  wisedomes  shall  seeme 
moste  Convient. 

an  ©roinance  for  feeeping  of  Courte  and  for  fines  for 

lacke  of  apparance  vppon   due  warninge    aswell  for    the 
Assistants  as  the  Generalitie. 

3t  SbalbeC  laWfUll  for  the  Maister  and  Wardeins  for  the 
Common  Weale  and  benifitt  of  the  Companie,  or  for  anie  other  vrgent 
cause,  to  call  the  Companie  together,  and  keepe  either  a  generall 
Courte  or  a  Courte  of  Assistants  on  any  daie  whatsoeuer,  not  being 
Sondaie  or  anie  principall  or  solemp  Feast  daie,  To  the  which  Courte 
and  Courtes  euerie  person  free  or  admitted  of  the  Companie  (beinge 
warned  of  by  the  Beadle)  shalbee  bounde  to  come.  And  if  anie  of 
the  generalitie  (beinge  warned)  doe  not  come  to  the  generall  Courte, 
haveinge  noe  reasonable  excuse  to  the  contrary,  and  soe  allowed  by 
the  maister  and  wardeyns,  and  the  .greatest  nomber  of  Assistaunts 
then  present,  shall  forfaite  for  every  tyme  that  he  shall  make  defaulte 
as  aforesaide  xij^.  And  every  one  cominge  halfe  an  hower  after  the 
Maister  shalbee  sate,  haveinge  noe  reasonable  excuse  to  bee  allowed 
of  as  aforesaide  shall  forfaite  vjrf.  And  if  anie  shall  departe  the 
Courte  before  the  breakinge  vpp  of  the  same  and  haue  not  leaue  of 
the  Maister  shall  forfaite  vjd.  And  hee  that  absenteth  himselfe  from 
Courte  three  Courte  daies  one  after  another  without  lycence  or  lawfull 
excuse  shall  forfaite  vs.  And  every  assistant  beinge  warned,  and  not 
comeinge  to  the  Courte,  but  absenteth  himselfe  from  the  Courte, 
haveinge  noe  leave  of  the  Maister  nor  reasonable  excuse  to  the 


Contrary  to  bee  allowed  as  aforesaide  shall  forfaict  ijs.,  and  comeinge 
late  to  the  Courte  haveinge  noe  reasonable  excuse  to  be  allowed  of  as 
aforesaide  shall  forfaite  xijrf.  And  euery  person  that  shalbee  warned 
to  appeare  vppon  a  paine  certeyne,  and  shall  make  default  of 
apparance,  haveinge  noe  reasonable  excuse  to  the  contrary,  and  soe 
allowed  as  aforesaide,  shall  without  favour,  pardon,  or  mittigacon, 
pay  the  somme  and  penalty  wherevppon  he  was  warned,  soe  the 
some  exceed  not  xxs.  And  that  there  shalbee  present  at  every 
Courte  aswell  of  the  Assistants  as  of  the  Generalitie  Seaven  Assistants 
at  the  least  besides  the  Maister,  wardeins,  and  Treasourour,  or  els 
nothinge  to  bee  concluded  at  the  Courte  where  such  nomber  shall 
lacke  And  all  things  passed  at  any  Courte  of  Assistants  shalbee 
read  at  the  end  of  the  same  Courte  and  beginninge  of  the  next 
Courte  of  Assistants  And  in  like  manner  all  things  that  shalbee 
passed  at  a  generall  Courte  shalbee  read  at  the  end  of  the  same 
Courte  and  at  the  beginninge  of  the  next  generall  Courte ;  And 
all  persons  commaunded  by  y8  maister  to  departe  the  Courte  for 
anie  reasonable  cause  shall  absent  himselfe,  vntill  hee  bee  againe 
called  vpon  paine  of  xs.  Hut)  tbat  vppon  the  tuesdaie  next  after 
the  fiveth  day  of  November  yeerely  (if  noe  extraordinary  occasion 
shall  hinder)  the  Mr,  Wardeins,  and  residue  of  the  saide  Companie 
shall  meete  together  in  theire  Comon  Hall,  and  there  make  choise 
of  a  newe  Maister,  Wardens,  Treasourour,  and  Assistants  for  the 
yeere  followinge  Hltb  likewise  that  Power  tymes  at  the  least  in 
every  yeere,  viz. :  within  xx  daies  next  before  or  after  every  of  the 
Feasts  of  the  birth  of  our  Lord  god,  the  Anunciacon  of  the  blessed 
virgin  Mary,  the  Nativitie  of  Saint  John  Baptist,  and  St.  Michaell 
the  Arch  Angell,  there  shalbee  holden  and  kept  a  generall  Courte, 
wherevnto  every  person  of  the  saide  Societie  shalbee  bounde  to 
come  and  appeare  vppon  lawfull  warninge,  there  to  haue  Commu- 
nicacon  togethers  aswell  of  the  recourse  and  traffique  of  marchandice 
as  to  heare  Complaints,  take  informacons,  and  sett  dirrections 
(according  to  reason  and  good  conscience)  between  ptie  and  pTies 
of  the  saide  Societie  concerning  the  same  And  that  noe  psbn  or 
psons  of  the  saide  Societie  shall  att  any  tyme  sue  or  ymplead  any 
other  of  them  for  anie  matter  concerning  the  recourse  or  traffique 
of  marchandize  before  the  same  bee  first  shewed  to  the  Mr  and 
Wardeins,  or  one  of  them,  vppon  paine  of  xx/*'. 

ffor  flMacefns  tbe  assistants  anb  Oenerallftg. 

UbC  HSSiStant  shall  take  his  place  neere  vnto  the  Maister  and 
Wardeins,  accordinge  to  his  degree,  place,  and  antiquitie  amongest 
the  Companie  vnlesse  anie  Alderman  or  other  of  this  Citty  (whose 


place  or  Office  shall  require  the  contrary)  be  there  present,  And 
those  that  have  served  in  the  Office  of  Maister  or  Wardeins  (being 
not  of  the  nomber  of  Assistants)  shall  take  place  accordinge  to  their 
degrees  as  they  have  proceeded  in  the  same  Offices  vnlesse  anie  other 
person  bee  then  present  whose  Office  and  place  in  the  Citty  shall 
require  the  contrary,  And  all  the  rest  of  the  generallitie  shall  take 
place  next  beneath  those  that  have  byn  wardeins  and  assistaunts 
every  man  accordinge  to  his  degree  and  antiquitie  in  the  Company 
And  yf  anie  question  or  Curiositie  shall  arise  or  bee  offered  by  anie 
person  or  persons  for  sittinge  or  placeinge  of  them  as  aforesaide, 
Euerie  such  person  shalbee  directed  by  the  Mr  and  Wardens  of  the 
Company  for  the  tyme  beinge,  and  shall  sitt  where  hee  shalbee 
appointed  vppon  paine  to  forfaite  xijd.  euerie  tyme  hee  shall  refuse 
soe  to  do. 

jfor  Direction  ano  speacbe  in  Gourte, 

jfor  a\>0l0ilt0e  of  Confusion,  and  superfluous  speech  and 
talke  in  Courte,  either  generall  or  of  Assistaunts,  Yt  is  ordered  and 
enacted  that  noe  person  of  this  Societie  shall  speake  whilest  another 
is  speaking,  nor  yet  one  to  another,  after  silence  is  commaunded  by 
the  Maister  or  Wardeins,  But  shall  give  attentive  eare  to  him  that 
is  speaking,  who  shall  direct  his  speach  to  the  Maister  onely,  without 
nameing  any  other,  and  shall  frame  his  speach  to  the  matter  pro- 
pounded, or  in  question.  Neither  shall  anie  man  speake  but  thrice 
to  one  matter  without  licence  of  the  Maister  vppon  paine  to  forfaite 
eurie  tyme  that  hee  shall  offend  contrarie  to  this  acte  the  somme  of 
vjs.  viijd. 

jfor  oecent  speacbe  in  Courte. 

5t  iS  OrbereO  and  enacted  that  noe  person  of  this  Societie 
shall  in  open  Courte  vse  anie  vnseemely  or  reproachfull  speach,  but 
shall  in  comely  and  quiet  manner  speake  to  the  matter  propounded, 
And  if  anie  ill  language  bee  given  that  may  breed  offence  (contrary 
to  the  meaninge  of  this  Act  and  soe  adiudged  by  the  Courte)  the 
partie  offendinge  shall  forfaite  vjs.  viijW.  every  time  that  hee  shall 
offend  in  such  case. 

jfor  Silence  in  Courte* 

]£f  tbe  fl&aiSter  shall  with  the  stroake  of  the  hammer  or 
otherwise  commaund  silence  to  bee  kept,  euery  person  not  obeying, 
or  doeing  contrary,  shall  forfaite 


for  ©roer  in  Courte  bv  moste  voices* 

j^f  anie  question  or  matter  shall  depend  in  Courte,  wherein  it 
shall  be  necessarie  that  the  same  shall  passe  by  consent  of  moste 
voices,  then  every  man  shall  speake  and  give  his  voice  by  order 
accordinge  to  his  degree  and  place  in  the  Companie,  And  in  anie 
matter  of  fine,  penaltie,  guifte,  or  other  disbursement  to  bee  made, 
noe  person  or  persons  shall  exceed  the  value  or  quantitie  thereof 
wch  shalbee  prescribed  or  nominated  to  bee  done  by  the  Maister 
Wardeins  and  Assistants  for  the  tyme  beinge. 

absence  in  COUrte  of  the  person  questioned. 

]l)f  anie  matter  bee  moved  in  Courte,  which  may  concerne  anie 
person  present  in  Courte,  That  partie  whome  the  matter  shall 
concerne,  his  brother  and  partener,  shall  at  the  Commaundement  of 
the  Maister  departe  the  Courte,  and  absent  himselfe  soe  long  tyme  as 
that  matter  shalbee  treated  vppon. 

Hgainst  Disclosing  of  matters  passeo  in  Courte. 

HJf  anie  brotber  of  this  Societie  shall  reveale  or  disclose  anie 
matter  treated  of  or  passed  in  Courte  either  generall  or  of  Assistaunts 
to  anie  person  not  beinge  free  of  the  Companie  to  the  hurte  or 
anoyance  of  anie  of  the  Companie,  The  partie  soe  offending  shall 
forfaite  for  the  first  tyme  vjs.  viijd.,  for  the  second  tyme  xiijs.  iiij^., 
and  for  the  third  tyme  xxs.  and  soe  for  evy  other  tyme  vjs.  viijrf.  over 
and  aboue  his  last  fine,  And  if  the  matter  disclosed  shalbee  or 
may  turne  to  the  preiudice  or  hurte  of  the  saide  Societie,  Then  hee 
or  they  soe  discloseinge  such  matter  shall  paie  such  fine  as  the 
Maister  Wardeins  and  Commynaltie  of  the  said  Company  shall  taxe 
vppon  him,  or  els  loose  the  benifitt  and  priviledge  of  this  Societie, 
and  bee  discommoned  therefrom  for  ever. 

tfor  aomitance  of  IRetailers* 

IRoe  IRCtailer  or  Artificer,  whilest  they  remaine  Retailers  or 
Artificers  shalbee  receyved  or  admitted  into  the  Freedome  of  this 
Societie  for  anie  fine  whatsoever  without  approbacon  and  allowance 
of  a  speciall  Courte  houlden  for  that  purpose. 

ffor  aomission  of  tbe  Sonnes  &  apprentices 
of  meere  marcbantes, 

^Ibe  SonneS  and  apprentices  of  every  meere  marchant  of  this 
Societie,  demaundinge  the  Freedome  of  the  same,  haveinge  served 
out  such  termes  of  apprentishipp  as  they  shall  bee  bounde  for, 


beinge  of  the  adge  of  xxj  yeeres  and  upward,  and  vseinge  noe  other 
trade,  shall  enioye  the  Freedome  of  this  Societie  paienge  at  the  tyme 
of  his  admission  these  sommes  followinge,  viz. :  to  the  Treasourour 
for  the  tyme  beinge  to  the  vse  of  the  Company  iiijs.  vjrf.,  to  the 
Clarke  of  the  Company  vj^.  and  to  the  Beadle  \i\\d. 

jfor  Homfssfon  of  tbe  Sonnes  of  IReoemptioners. 

J5$  IReOemptiOlter  ys  meant  euery  one  that  shall  come  in 
vnto  this  Societie  by  waie  of  Composition  after  these  actes  shalbee 
established  by  the  Company  And  then  the  sonne  of  every  Redemp- 
tioner  (exerciseing  the  trade  of  marchandisinge  onelie  and  haveinge 
served  noe  apprentishippe  therevnto)  shall  pay  successivelie  for  ever 
xls.  for  his  admission,  with  the  accustomed  Fees  to  the  Treasourour, 
Clarke,  &  Beadle  as  is  before  menconed. 

Mboe  mas  clasme  bis  freeoome  bs  patrimonie. 

HU  persons  Claymeing  the  Freedome  of  this  Companie  by 
Patrimonie  shall  bee  borne  meere  Englishe,  that  is  to  saie,  within 
the  Kings  maiesties  Dominions,  or  made  a  Denizen  by  Acte  of 
parliament,  and  bee  the  sonne  of  a  brother  of  this  Societie  lawfully 
and  orderly  admitted. 

Wboe  mate  claime  bis  freeoome  b£  Hpprenticebooo* 

HU  SUCb  persons  as  have  served  meere  marchants  or  at  this 
daie  have  anie  time  to  serve  them,  or  have  served  anie  Redemp- 
tioners  lawfully  admitted,  or  at  this  daie  have  anie  tyme  to  serve 
them,  or  shall  hereafter  serve  either  of  them,  beinge  bounde 
accordinge  to  order,  and  enrolled  amongest  the  enrolments  of  this 
Societie,  may  enioy  the  freedome  of  this  Companie,  requireinge  the 
same,  and  paienge  the  accustomed  Fees  to  the  Treasourour,  Clarke, 
and  Beadle  as  is  before  menconed,  soe  as  the  apprentice  of  the 
Redempconer  bee  ymployed  in  the  trade  and  recourse  of  marchandice 
onely  during  his  terme. 

ffor  wbat  terme  apprentices  sbalbee  bouno* 

IKlOe  matt  or  brother  which  is  or  shalbee  free  of  this  Company 
shall  hereafter  take  any  apprentice  to  bee  bounde  for  anie  lesse 
terme  then  seaven  years,  neither  the  yeeres  of  anie  such  apprentice 
shall  end  before  hee  bee  of  the  adge  of  one  &  twenty  yeeres  vppon 
paine  of  xx/t. 


Ht  wbat  seeres  sonnes  or  apprentices  sbalbee  aomiteo. 

manner  of  person  being  the  sonne  or  apprentice  of  any 
brother  of  this  Companie  shalbee  admitted  into  this  Societie  vnlesse 
hee  bee  of  the  full  adge  of  one  and  twentie  yeeres  and  upwards. 

ffor  Snrollinge  of  Snoentures. 

ZTbe  Indenture  of  euerie  apprentice  of  every  brother  of  this 
Societie  hereafter  to  bee  taken  shall  (within  the  space  of  sixe 
moneths  next  after  the  makinge  thereof)  bee  enrolled  and  entred 
(by  the  Clarke)  into  a  booke  for  that  purpose  to  bee  kept  And  the 
Indentures  of  all  other  apprentices  that  nowe  stand  bounde  to  anie 
brother  of  this  Societie  shalbee  enrolled  into  the  same  booke  within 
twelve  moneths  next  ensueing  And  the  Clarke  to  haue  for  every  such 

Hgainst  mariaog  or  oealinge  of  apprentices  onrin^e 
tbeire  terme. 

HppreilttCe  of  this  Societie  shall  from  hencefourth  marry 
duringe  his  apprentishood,  neither  vse  nor  deale  in  Feate  of  mchan- 
dize  for  himselfe  vntill  hee  hath  served  seaven  yeeres  of  his  appren- 
tishipp,  without  the  Licence  of  his  maister  (the  same  Licence  to  be 
signified  to  the  maister  and  wardens  and  soe  recorded)  neither  deale 
for  anie  other  without  his  maisters  Licence,  Nor  yet  willinglie  absent 
himselfe  from  the  service  of  his  saide  maister  by  the  space  of  twoe 
moneths  vppon  paine  never  to  enioy  the  Freedome  of  this  Societie 
by  apprentishood. 

apprentices  sball  confer  witb  tbe  Clarfee  before 
bee  oemanno  bis  freeoome. 

]£urie  parson  clayming  his  Freedome  by  Patrimonie  or 
apprentishood  shall  present  himselfe  twoe  or  three  daies  before  the 
Courte  to  the  Clarke,  to  thintent  hee  may  enforme  the  Courte  of 
such  matters  as  shall  be  requisite  in  his  admission,  or  else  shall  not 
bee  admitted  at  that  Courte. 

Ubat  apprentice  sball  sbewe  bis  Snfcenture  ano  brinae 


Hit  HpprentiCe  claymeinge  his  Freedome  by  apprenticehood 
shall  shewe  forth  his  Indenture  made  in  due  forme  according  to  the 
custome  of  this  Citty,  And  withall  a  Letter  from  his  maister  (if  hee 


bee  not  present  in  Courte  to  Justine  the  same)  testifieng  that  hee 
hath  well  and  truely  served  him  as  an  apprentice  accordinge  to  the 

Haainst  tPntrue  Certificate  of  tbe  Seruice  of  an 

12f  anie  person  shall  att  anie  tyme  hereafter  write  declare 
avowe  or  testifie,  by  his  letter  or  otherwise,  for  the  iust  and  true 
service  of  his  apprentice,  whereby  such  apprentice  shall  attayne 
and  enioy  the  Freedome  of  the  Company,  and  the  testimony  or 
Declaracon  thereof  shall  afterwards  bee  disproved,  such  a  Mr  soe 
offending  shall  forfaite  to  the  vse  of  the  Societie  And  the 
apprentice  soe  fraudulently  mad  free  shall  be  disfranchised  and 
dismised  out  of  the  Companye. 

ffor  persons  aomitteo  gratis. 

HU  perSOltS  admitted  into  the  Freedome  of  this  Societie 
gratis  shall  enioy  the  Freedome  but  for  theire  owne  persons  onelie, 
vnlesse  they  doe  voluntarily  bestowe  some  gratuity  to  the  vse  of 
the  poore  of  this  Societie  to  the  value  of  xls.  at  the  least. 

factors  ano  pursers  sball  oeale  but  for  sucb  as 
are  of  tbe  Company 

benCefOUrtb  Noe  marchant  or  brother  of  this  Society 
neither  Factor  Atturney  or  Purser  of  anie  shippe  barke  or  vessell 
wch  shalbee  ymployed  by  anie  brother  or  brothers  of  this  Company 
goeinge  vnto  anie  the  parts  beyonde  the  Seas,  or  comeinge  into 
anie  the  kings  matles  Dominions  within  the  Realm  of  England, 
shall  att  anie  tyme  hereafter  Joyne  himselfe  in  Company,  or  bee 
Factor  or  Atturney  with  or  for  anie  person  or  persons  of  this 
Citty  for  anie  goodes  wares  or  marchandices  to  bee  boughte  vttered 
or  sould  within  the  Porte  or  Citty  of  Bristoll,  or  anie  other  Porte 
or  place  neere  therevnto  beinge,  But  onely  with  or  for  those 
marchants  wch  are  or  shalbee  admitted  and  free  of  the  Companie 
and  Societie  aforesaide  vppon  paine  to  forfaict  aud  pay  for  the 
first  Offence  xx/».  And  if  he  offend  the  second  tyme  therein,  to 
loose  his  Freedome  of  this  Societie,  and  be  disfranchised  and  excluded 
therefrom  for  ever. 

Bgainst  3oinct  oealina  witb  fforaines, 

tfrom  beilCefOlirtb   Noe  person  Free  of  this   Company  shall 
Joyne  or  Deale  in  Partnershippe  with  anie  person  not  free  of  this 


Companie  to  colour  his  goodes,  or  with  any  Retayler  or  Artificer  of 
or  for  anie  goods  wares  or  marchandizes  to  bee  transported  or  brought 
to  or  from  anie  the  parts  beyond  the  Seas,  vppon  paine  of  vs.  in  every 
pound  starlinge  of  the  value  of  the  saide  goodes  so  coloured  to  bee 
paide  by  him  that  shall  Deale  or  Joyne  in  partnershipp  against  the 
true  meaninge  hereof. 

for  reaoinae  of  letters  &  requester 

HU  letters,  requests,  or  writings  sent  and  directed  to  the 
Generality,  or  which  may  concerne  the  whole  Societie,  shall  at  the 
next  Courte  after  the  delivery  or  receipt  of  them,  bee  published  and 
openly  read  vppon  payne  to  forfaicte  xxs.,  to  bee  paide  by  the  partie 

for  collecting  j&  per  U  vppon  flDarriners  wases, 

/Iftarcbant,  Factor,  purser  and  other  of  this  Societie  & 
theire  servants,  which  shall  collect  the  Averadge  of  anie  shippe  barke 
or  vessell  vnladeing  in  this  Porte,  shall  in  his  Collection  endeavour  to 
gett  into  his  power  (out  of  the  Fraight  and  Dueties  due  to  every 
owner  of  such  shipp  barke  or  vessell)  jd.  vppon  every  pounde  sterlinge 
wch  ye  marriners  wages  for  that  voyadge  shall  amounte  vnto,  to  the 
intent  that  the  Owners  may  discounte  it  in  the  wages  of  the  Company 
towards  ye  reliefe  of  poore  Seafareing  men  remayninge  in  the 
Almshouse  of  this  Company  And  haveinge  receyved  it  shall  deliver 
the  same  vnto  the  Beadle  of  this  Societie,  requireing  the  same,  and 
he  to  bee  accomptable  vnto  the  Treasourour  thereof. 

for  tbe  Execution  of  ©rofnaunces. 

Jl)f  anie  person  or  persons  which  is  or  shalbee  Free  of  this 
Societie  shall  trangresse  or  breake  anie  Ordinaunce  or  acte  made  or 
to  bee  made  by  Common  Consent  of  the  Company  yt  shalbee  lawfull 
for  any  brother  of  the  same  To  Informe  the  Mr,  Wardeins,  and 
Treasourour  thereof  mentioninge  both  tyme  place  _and  all  other 
Circumstances  wch  may  sett  forth  the  matter,  the  wch  Information 
The  Clarke  shall  register  into  a  booke  for  that  purpose  to  bee  secretly 
kept,  and  onely  shewen  to  the  maister  and  wardens  vnlesse  in  open 
Courte  it  shalbee  otherwise  commaunded. 

Htt£  perSOlt  presented,  and  sent  for,  and  spoken  with  by  the 
Officer,  to  appeare  at  a  Court  of  Assistants  or  generality  to  answere 
anie  offence  psented  against  him,  makeinge  default  &  haveinge  noe 
reasonable  excuse  to  bee  allowed  of  by  the  Court  shall  forfaict  xs. 


IFiOC  perS01t  condemned  in  Courte  of  Assistaunts  for  anie 
Aflfence  shall  sue  for  grace  or  pardon  before  the  whole  somme  wherein 
hee  shalbee  condemned  bee  paide  to  the  Treasourour,  nor  then  neither, 
except  it  bee  in  Courte  of  Assistaunts,  and  within  three  Courte  daies 
next  after  the  payment  of  the  money  (absence  money  or  for  late 
comeing  onelie  excepted). 

IftOe  pCrSOlt  haveing  sued  for  grace,  and  receyved  his  answere, 
shall  solicite  for  any  further  grace. 

JElierie  pei*SOtt  wch  shall  transgresse  anie  of  the  Acts  or 
Ordinaunces  of  this  Societe  shalbee  Censured  in  Courte  of  Assist- 
aunts onely  vnlesse  it  shalbee  otherwise  appointed  by  the  Maister 
and  Wardeyns. 

Htt  a  generall  Courte  holden  the  xvijth  November  1618  TffilCt 
the  marchante  aduenturers  of  the  Citty  of  Bristoll  whose  names  are 
subscribed  doe  acknowledge  hereby  to  have  scene  and  pused  the 
actes  ordinances  and  decrees  of  the  maister  Wardens  and  Commalty 
aforesaid  wch  are  before  written  and  conteyned  in  this  booke,  and 
have  alsoe  approved  of  the  same  And  doe  promise  to  bee  ordered 
and  ruled  thereby,  submitting  ourselves  and  every  of  us  to  the 
Forfaitures  fines  and  penalties  in  them  and  every  of  them  conteyned 
And  further  Doe  bynde  ourselves  to  observe  pforme  and  keepe  not 
onely  the  acts  ordinances  taxacons  and  decrees  aforesaide,  but  alsoe 
all  other  Actes  ordinances  taxacons  &  decrees  of  the  saide  Societie 
hereafter  to  bee  duely  &  lawfully  made  concluded  or  agreed  vppon 
either  in  any  Courte  of  Assistants  or  of  the  Generalitie  of  the  saide 
Societie  And  in  wittnes  whereof  have  subscribed  our  names. 

(Here  follow  the  names  of  the  members.) 

The  following  interesting  list  ol  members  is  also  dated 
November  lyth,  1618,  and  accompanies  the  foregoing 
document : — 

H  GatOl00Ue  Or  IReQiSter  of  the  names  of  all  such  persons 
as  haue  bine  lawfully  admitted  into  the  Societie  of  the  maister 
wardeins  and  Comynaltie  of  the  Arte  or  Misterie  of  marchante 
Adventurers  of_the  Citty  of  Bristoll,  accounteing  them  only  wch 
nowe  bee  and  wch  from  henceforth  shalbee  of  the  same  Societie  (the 
marke  in  the  margent  serveing  only  to  discribe  ye  Redemptioner). 



Nouember  the  Seauententh,  1618. 

5.  Mr.  John  Barker, 

Mr  of  the  Companie 

3.  Mr.  John  Whitsone 
Mr.  Thomas  lames 
Mr.  William  Vawer 
Mr.  Mathewe  Haviland 

5.  Mr.  Robert  Aldworth 

5.  Mr.  Abell  Kitchen 

3.  Mr.  lohn  Guy 

2.  Mr.  lohn  Doughtie 

5.  Mr.  William  Pitt 

2.  Mr.  John  Gonninge 
5.  Mr.  John  Langton 
5.  Mr.  Humfrie  Hooke 
5.  Mr.  John  Tomlinson 
5.  Mr.  Andrew  Charlton 

Mr.  Richard  Holworthie 

3.  Mr.  Thomas  Wrighte 
Mr.  Edward  Coxe 

5.  Mr.  William  Jones 

Mr.  Humfrie  Browne 
5.  Mr.  Richard  Longe 

Mr.  Nicho.  Meredith 

Mr.  Boulton 

John  Rowberoe 

Thomas  Hopkins 
5.  Arthur  Hibbins 

George  White 

Nicholas  Hickes 

Thomas  Davies 

Robert  Johnson 

Edmond  Browne 

George  Goughe 

Michaell  Wrighte 

William  Pitt 

William  Hickes 

lohn  Griffith,  senr. 

Robert  Haviland 
Phillipp  Dickenson 
Edmund  Gainsford 
Beniamyn  Crokhey 
Humfry  Fitzherbert 
John  Locke 
Walter  Ellis 
Phillipp  Ellis 
Thomas  Colston 
Francis  Derrick 
Nathaniell  Butcher 
William  Wyatt 
Edward  Wakeham 
Giles  Elbridge 
Miles  Jackson 
Peter  Miller 
Richard  Ellis 
Thomas  Rowland 
Wiilm  Griffeth 
Alexander  James 
John  Griffith 
George  Butcher 
Thomas  Adames 
William  Stevins 
Edward  Paine 
William  Chetwind 
Francis  Madley 
Richard  Vickris 
Thomas  Slocumb 
Richard  Stanfast 
Francis  Creswick 
Walter  Williams 
William  Powell 
John  Gardiner 
Erasmus  Wrighte 
Richard  Griffeth 

In  1621  the  Society  prepared  another  Parliamentary 
Bill  for  a  confirmation  and  enlargement  of  their  privileges, 
which  was  sent  up  for  presentation  to  the  representatives 



for  Bristol,  Aldermen  Whitson  and  Guy,  two  members 
of  the  Hall.     Those  gentlemen  were  requested  to  plead 
the   services   that   Bristol   had   rendered  to  the  Crown, 
especially  in  the  reigns  of  Henry  VII.  and  Henry  VIII., 
when  the  city  furnished  three  ships  for  Calais,  and,  above 
all,  in  its  continuous  service  in  the  Irish  wars  and  for  the 
suppression  of  piracy  in  the  Bristol  Channel,  ^500  having 
been  recently  expended  on  the  latter  work  alone.      It  was 
added  that  the  maintenance  of  the   Society's  eight  poor 
almsmen,  and  of  its  school  for  poor  children  (of  which 
this  is  the  first  mention),  could  not  be  continued  unless 
authority  were   given   for  the    better  ordering  of  trade, 
which    was    much    impaired    through    the    excesses    of 
inexperienced  interlopers  (Society's  Letter  Book).     The 
Corporation  lent  zealous   support  to   this  movement  by 
promulgating  what  it  styled   a   "Certificate"   addressed 
"to  all  Christian  People,"  but  of  course  really  directed 
to  the  members  of  the  Legislature.     With  a  regard  for 
truth  which  may  be  appreciated  by  the  help  of  manu- 
scripts already  quoted,  the  document  boldly  asserted  that 
the    repealing   Act    of    1571    was   procured,  not    by   the 
exertions  of  the  Corporation   itself — as  was  actually  the 
fact — but  solely  by  "shopkeepers  and  tradesmen,"  at  a 
time  when  the  meer  merchants  were  weakened  by  heavy 
losses  in  the  service  of  the  Crown  and  by  shipwrecks  and 
pirates ;    and  that,  in  consequence  of  the  repeal,  and  of 
an  Act   of    1606  authorising  all   persons   to  trade  with 
France  and  the  Peninsula,  many  shopkeepers  and  manual 
labourers,  having  forsaken  their  trades  and  practised  as 
merchants,  had  ruined  themselves  through  inexperience, 
and  grievously  prejudiced  legitimate  commerce.     It  was 
added  that,  through  want  of  proper  laws,  and  the  inability 
of  the  Society  to  restrain  the  exorbitance  and  dishonesty 
of  sailors  and  boatmen,  the  citizens  generally  were  much 


prejudiced,  navigation  decreased,  and  the  royal  Customs 
diminished,  and  that  the  remedy  of  these  evils  would  be 
very  profitable  to  the  inhabitants.  The  prolonged  attack 
on  monopolies  made  by  the  House  of  Commons  during 
the  Session  doubtless  warned  the  members  for  Bristol 
against  untimely  action ;  and  the  Bill  was  not  introduced. 
After  the  General  Election  in  1624,  when  two  past 
Masters,  Messrs.  Guy  and  Barker,  were  returned  for 
Bristol,  the  charters  were  sent  up  to  those  gentlemen  on 
the  opening  of  Parliament,  with  an  urgent  request  to 
introduce  the  Bill ;  and  the  Mayor,  William  Pitt,  who 
became  Master  in  the  same  year,  produced  another 
corporate  "  Certificate,"  repeating  the  assertions  of  the 
first.  The  Commons,  however,  being  busily  engaged  in 
suppressing  monopolies,  the  Society's  wishes  were  again 
prudently  postponed  ;  and  nothing  more  was  attempted 
in  the  matter  for  fourteen  years. 

Only  eight  years  after  the  emphatic  adoption  of  the 
Code  of  Ordinances  drawn  up  in  1618,  the  Society 
discovered  that  a  number  of  its  leading  members  had 
wilfully  broken  the  laws  concerning  the  merchandise  of 
•strangers  and  foreigners.  Clear  evidence  had  been 
obtained  that  Humphrey  Browne  (Master,  1629)  and 
John  Taylor  (Warden,  1622  ;  M.P.,  1642)  had  clandes- 
tinely bought  80  pipes  of  Cognac  wines ;  that  Derrick 
Popley  (Warden,  1624),  Taylor,  and  Thomas  Colston 
(Master,  1644),  had  illegally  bought  100  pipes  of  Malaga 
and  90  barrels  of  raisins  of  the  sun  ;  and  that  William 
Cann  (Master,  1645)  had  purchased  a  parcel  [of  figs,  all 
which  goods  should  have  been  first  carried  to  the  Back 
Hall  in  conformity  with  the  Ordinances.  The  delin- 
quents excused  themselves  by  alleging  that  they  were 
ignorant  of  the  regulations,  which  was  scarcely  credible ; 
.but  having  pleaded  for  tender  treatment,  and  promising 


future  fidelity,  they  were  let  off  with  reduced  fines, — £20 
for  the  Cognac,  £20  for  the  Malaga  and  raisins,  and  £2 
for  the  figs.  A  third  of  the  ^40,  and  the  whole  of  Cann's 
fine,  were  ordered  to  be  distributed  amongst  the  poor  of 
the  city.  A  new  Ordinance  of  a  more  stringent  character 
was  then  enacted  to  prevent  further  irregularities. 

Extract  from   the  Records  of  the  year  A.D.  1626. 

HlBOC  this  yeere  in  the  xxth  day  of  December  1626  at  a 
generall  Courte  was  publiquely  read  the  Ancient  Ordinances  and 
Decrees  of  this  Societie  against  forebuyenge  and  bargaineinge  for 
goods  with  Strangers  before  the  goods  were  brought  in  to  the 
Common  Hawle  called  Spicers  Hall  alias  the  Back  hawle  within 
the  same  Citty,  and  to  the  end  that  certeyne  persons  of  the  saide 
Company  (that  are  found  to  bee  delinquent  in  that  behalfe)  may 
bee  eased  at  present  of  a  parte  of  those  fines  wch  they  are  liable 
vnto,  and  to  give  notice  and  warninge  vnto  others  of  the  saide 
Societie  not  to  offend  in  the  like  Case,  and  to  revive  and  put  in 
practize  the  saide  Ancient  Ordinances  and  Decrees  of  the  saide 
Company,  yt  is,  vpon  consideracon  and  deliberacon  of  the  saide 
Company,  at  severall  assemblyes,  ordayned  and  enacted  as  followeth, 

as  at  this  generall  Courte,  it  doth  manifestlie 
appeare  that  Mr  Humfrie  Browne,  Mr  John  Tayler  and  Company, 
Mr  Derricke  Popley,  Mr  John  Tayler,  Mr  Thomas  Colston  and 
Company,  and  Mr  Willm  Cann  and  Company,  beinge  members  of 
this  Societie,  haue  of  late  delt  wth  strangers  and  Alians,  and  haue 
vnlawfully  bought  sundrie  sorts  of  marchandices,  contrary  to  the 
Ancient  lawdable  and  approved  ordinances  and  Customes  of  the 
said  Societie,  to  say,  the  said  Humfrie  Browne,  John  Tayler  and 
Company  for  buyeinge  of  Ixxx  pipes  of  Coniacque  wynes,  the  said 
Derricke  Popley,  John  Tayler,  Thomas  Colston  and  Company  for 
buyeinge  of  one  hundred  pipes  of  Mallaga  wyne,  and  fowerscore 
and  tenne  barrells  of  Reysons  of  the  Sunne,  and  the  said  Willm 
Cann  and  Company  for  buyeinge  of  a  parcell  of  Figgs,  before  the 
said  goods  were  landed,  and  brought  vnto  Spicers  Hall,  comonly 
called  the  backe  Hawle  of  Bristoll,  beinge  the  comon  and  vsuall 
place  of  buyeinge  and  sellinge  of  Strangers  goods,  whereby  the  said 
psons  haue  severally  transgressed  against  the  said  ordinances  and 
haue  incurred  the  paines  penalties  and  forfeitures  in  the  said 
ordinances  on  that  behalfe  conteyned  And  for  that  the  said 


delinquents  haue  declared  that  they  were  vnacquainted  wtu  the 
tenor  of  the  said  ordinances,  and  haue  severally  submitted  them- 
selves to  the  Judgment  and  censure  of  this  Societie  in  generall,  for 
the  ballatinge  of  their  fynes,  promisinge  hereafter  to  support  the 
Ancient  and  Lawdable  vsages  and  Customes  of  this  Societie  and 
Company  to  their  vttermost  powers  ZTbCrcfOfC  in  regard  that 
this  their  facte  is  the  first  that  bath  bin  lately  questioned  of  that 
kind,  and  in  mitigacon  of  the  penalties  wch  (by  the  said  ordinances) 
the  said  delinquents  are  lyable  vnto,  Yt  is  this  day  ordered,  con- 
cluded, and  enacted,  by  a  generall  consent  and  full  agreement  of 
this  Societie,  that  the  said  Humfrie  Browne,  John  Tayler  and 
Company,  their  partners  and  associats  in  the  said  bargaine,  shall 
satisfie  and  pay  vnto  the  Treasourer  of  this  Societie,  for  the  vse 
and  comon  profitt  of  this  Company,  the  some  of  thirteene  pounds 
sixe  shillings  and  eight  pence  of  Currant  Englishe  money  without 
delay,  togeather  wth  sixe  pounds  thirteene  shillings  and  fower  pence 
of  like  money  to  bee  distributed  amongst  poore  people  of  the 
Citty  of  Bristoll  at  the  discretion  of  the  said  Treasourer,  HltD 
that  the  said  Humfrie  Browne,  John  Tayler  and  Company,  their 
partners  and  associats  in  the  said  bargaine  shalbee  acquited  and 
discharged  by  this  Acte  of  and  for  the  said  Offence,  And  alsoe 
that  the  said  Derricke  Popley,  John  Tayler,  Thomas  Colston  & 
Company,  their  partners  and  Associats  in  the  said  bargaine,  shall 
likewise  pay  vnto  the  said  Treasourer,  for  the  vse  and  Common 
profitt  of  this  Societie,  the  some  of  Thirteene  pounds  sixe  shillings 
and  eight  pence  of  like  money  without  delay,  togeather  with  Sixe 
pounds  thirteene  shillings  and  fower  pence  of  like  money,  to  bee 
distributed  amongst  the  poore  people  of  this  Citty  of  Bristoll  at 
the  discretion  of  the  said  Treasourer,  And  that  the  said  Derricke 
Popley,  John  Tayler,  Thomas  Colston  and  Comp :  their  partners 
and  associats  in  the  said  bargaine,  shalbee  acquited  and  discharged 
hereby  of  and  for  the  said  offence,  HttO  further  that  the  said 
Willm  Cann  and  Company  shall  pay  vnto  the  Treasourer  of 
this  Societie  the  some  of  Fortie  shillings  of  like  money,  to  bee 
distributed  amongest  the  poore  people  of  this  Citty  at  the  discretion 
of  the  said  Treasourer,  and  then  shalbee  noe  further  questioned 
of  and  for  the  said  Offence  Hilt)  moreover  for  the  better  practise 
and  puttinge  in  execution  of  the  Ancient  ordinances,  Statuts,  and 
Decrees  of  this  Societie,  in  regard  that  Ignorance  of  the  said 
ordinances  shalbee  noe  excuse  to  any  delinquent  hereafter,  ]j)t 
is  alsoe  ordayned,  Concluded,  established,  and  at  this  assemblie 
renewed,  by  a  generall  consent  of  the  whole  Societie,  tlbat  from 
henceforth  noe  manner  of  person  or  persons,  beinge  a  brother  or 


member  of  this  Company,  shall  see,  taste,  or  buy,  or  cause  to  be 
scene,  tasted,  or  bought  any  goods,  wares,  or  mchandices  whatsoever,, 
apperteyninge  or  belonginge  to  any  forreiner,  Alien,  or  Stranger 
to  the  Liberties  of  this  Citty,  in  any  shipp,  boate,  or  vessell  what- 
soever, beinge  or  to  bee  within  the  Porte  of  Bristoll  aforesaid,  or 
the  members  of  the  same,  nor  in  any  other  place  within  the  Citty 
of  Bristoll,  or  Liberties  of  the  same,  but  onely  in  the  Comon 
Hall  called  Spicer's  Hawle,  alias  the  backe  Hawle  of  the  said 
Citty,  wch  is  the  Comon  place  ordained  for  buyeinge  and  selling 
of  Strangers  goods,  and  then  not  before  the  said  goods,  wares, 
and  marchandices  haue  there  laine  and  continued  by  the  space  of 
three  dayes  and  three  nights  togeather,  Vppon  paine  that  every 
person  soe  doeinge  shalbee  excluded  and  putt  of  from  the  bargaine 
by  him  or  them  made,  and  shall  alsoe  pay  vnto  the  Treasourer  of 
this  Societie  for  the  tyme  beinge,  for  and  to  the  vse  and  profitt 
of  the  Maister,  Wardens,  and  Cominaltie  of  this  Company,  and 
of  the  Mayor  and  Cominaltie  of  the  Citty  of  Bristoll  (as  in  the 
Ancient  ordinances  of  this  Society  ys  expressed)  the  some  of  three 
shillings  and  fower  pence  vppon  every  twentie  shillings  of  the  full 
value  of  the  goods,  wares,  and  mchandices  soe  seene,  tasted,  or 
bought  contrary  to  the  true  meaninge  of  this  ordinance,  or  any 
clause  or  branch  of  the  same,  Httt)  for  an  equall  particon  and 
devision  to  bee  made  amongst  the  members  of  this  Societie  of 
such  wynes,  or  other  goods,  wares,  or  marchandices  wch  now 
are  brought,  or  hereafter  shalbee  brought  into  the  said  Comon 
Hawle,  wherein  any  member  of  this  Company  will  and  may  lawfully 
deale  or  bargaine  for,  J^t  is  further  ordained,  concluded,  and  agreed 
vppon  by  a  generall  consent  of  this  Societie,  that  as  often  and 
before  any  such  goods,  wares,  or  marchandices  shalbee  bought  or 
devided,  there  shalbee  summoned  all  the  said  Societie  to  meete 
and  appeare  in  their  Comon  Hawle,  and  then  by  consent  of  the 
Maister  and  Cominaltie  of  this  Societie,  there  shalbee  fower  out 
of  eight  indifferent  men  of  the  said  Company  Chosen  and  drawne 
out  by  lott,  to  bargaine  and  deale  for  the  said  goods,  for  the  vse 
and  benifitt  of  the  Company  in  generall,  and  to  allott  and  appoint 
vnto  every  brother  of  the  said  Company  that  shall  deale  in  the 
Comoditie  to  bee  devided  a  proporconable  parte  of  the  same  goods, 
wares,  and  marchandices,  accordinge  to  each  man's  bulke  of  trade, 
wth  which  allottment  every  brother  of  this  Societie  shall  hold  himselfe 
contented,  |f)rO\>ifcCJ>  there  bee  a  Hall  called  before  the  buyeinge 
of  the  said  goods.  Hltt>  it  is  further  ordained  that  whosoever  of 
this  Company  doth  not  by  himselfe,  servant,  or  frynd,  vnderwrite 
and  subscribe  for  what  parte  he  is  to  haue  of  the  said  goods  shalbee 


exempted  and  excluded  from  haueinge  any  parte  of  the  said  bargaine 
jprOVHfcet)  alsoe  that  the  parcell  of  goods  to  bee  bought  shall 
exceed  the  some  of  one  hundred  pounds.  And  it  is  further  ordayned 
that  the  maister  of  the  saide  Company  for  the  tyme  beinge,  vpon 
request  made  by  any  of  the  Company  of  this  Societie,  or  vpon  his 
owne  knowledge  shall  within  three  dayes  next  after  such  request 
or  knowledge  made  to  him,  summon  a  meetinge  at  the  hall  of 
the  saide  Company  for  the  buyenge  and  devidinge  of  the  saide 
Comodities  vpon  paine  of  one  hundred  pounds  of  lawfull  Englishe 
money,  to  bee  forfeited  and  paide  to  the  Treasourer  of  this  Societie, 
to  the  vse  of  the  Mayor  and  Comynalty  of  this  Citty,  &  of  the  Mr, 
Wardens,  and  Comynalty  of  this  Societie,  accordinge  as  it  hath 
byne  accustomed  &  formerly  ordeyned. 

tertio  die  Decembris,  Anno  Dni  1627. 

that  the  Acte  next  entred  before  in  this  booke 
was  publiquely  read  in  the  hearinge  of  this  Societie,  and 
was  approved  by  the  whole  Society  in  generall,  and 
vndertaken  by  every  of  them  to  bee  performed,  And  in 
wittnes  whereof  they  haue  subscribed  theire  names. 

(Here  follow  the  signatures.) 

The  revival  of  the  movement  for  extended  privileges 
is  involved  in  much  obscurity,  for  the  books  now  in  the 
Hall  are  silent  on  the  subject.  But  it  seems  certain  that 
in  1638,  when  Charles  the  First  had  dispensed  with 
Parliaments  for  many  years,  and  was  ruling  as  an  absolute 
sovereign,  the  Society  besought  him  for  a  fresh  charter 
and  a  concession  of  additional  powers.  In  response  the 
King,  by  letters  patent  dated  January  yth,  1639,  con- 
taining an  "  inspeximus  "  of  the  charter  of  Edward  the 
Sixth,  and  reciting  the  charter  of  Elizabeth,  but  making 
no  mention  of  the  subsequent  Acts  of  Parliament,  con- 
firmed the  grants  of  his  predecessors,  and  empowered  the 
Society  to  make  laws  for  the  government  and  correction, 
not  merely  of  their  own  body,  but  of  every  Bristolian 
trading  beyond  the  seas,  and  to  impose  fines  and  levy 


distresses  on  such  as  should  violate  their  regulations. 
But  these  concessions  were  followed  by  a  proviso  that  the 
Society's  Ordinances  must  not  be  repugnant  to  the  laws 
and  customs  of  the  realm,  or  prejudicial  to  the  Mayor 
[i.e.  the  Corporation]  of  Bristol,  or  to  the  Merchant 
Adventurers  to  the  Low  Countries.  And  it  must  have 
been  soon  apparent  that  any  attempt  to  restrain  the  chief 
commerce  of  non-members  would  be  a  violation  of  the 
Act  of  the  previous  reign,  permitting  all  Englishmen  to 
trade  with  France,  Spain,  and  Portugal  in  despite  of  any 
restrictive  royal  charter.  The  chief  permanent  features  of 
the  following  instrument,  of  which  we  give  a  contemporary 
translation,  consisted  in  the  practical  confirmation  of  the 
Society's  Ordinance  of  1618,  creating  a  body  of  Assistants 
to  act  with  the  Master  and  Wardens,  the  number  of  these 
officers  being  reduced  from  twelve  to  ten  ;  and  in  the 
fixing  of  the  annual  elections,  previously  held  somewhat 
capriciously,  on  the  loth  November  —  no  provision  being 
made  for  altering  the  date  when  it  fell  upon  a  Sunday. 

b£  tbC  grace  Of  (BOO  of  England  Scotland  France 
and  Ireland  King  Defender  of  the  Faith,  &c.  To  all  to  whom  these 
present  Letters  shall  come  Greeting  7KHCC  baVC  SC611  the  Letters 
patents  of  Edward  the  Sixth  late  King  of  England  made  in  these 
words  EOWatO  tbe  Sijtb  &c.  [as  in  the  original  Charter]  BltO 
WbCtCaS  the  late  Sovereign  Lady  Queen  Elizabeth  by  her  Letters 
pattents  under  the  Great  Scale  of  England  bearing  date  at  West- 
minster the  Eighth  day  of  July  in  the  Eighth  year  of  her  Reign  did 
ratifye  and  confirm  the  same  Letters  pattents  of  the  said  King  Edward 
the  Sixth  before  recited  And  all  and  singular  the  things  therein 
contained  unto  the  then  Master  Wardens  and  Cominalty  of  the  Art 
or  Mistery  of  Merchants  Venturers  of  the  City  of  Bristoll  and  their 
Successors  As  by  the  same  Letters  pattents  of  the  said  Late  Queen 
plainly  appeareth.  IRllOW  PCC  now  that  at  the  humble  petition  of 
the  said  Master  Wardens  and  Cominalty  of  the  Mistery  of  Merchta 
Venturers  aforesaid  We  do  ratifye  &  approve  of  the  same  severall 
Letters  pattents  of  the  said  late  King  Edward  the  Sixth  and  late 
Queen  Elizabeth  and  all  and  singuler  the  Gifts  and  Grants  and  other 


things  contained  therein  with  the  Addicons  amplificacons  and 
alteracons  hereinafter  expressed  And  all  and  singular  the  same  do 
by  these  presents  confirm  for  us  our  Heirs  and  Successors  unto  the 
said  Master  Wardens  and  Commaltye  and  their  Successors.  And 
moreover  for  the  better  governing  of  the  said  Art  or  Mistery  of  Mer- 
chant Venturers  of  the  City  aforesaid  And  for  the  augmentacon  and 
increase  thereof  We  of  our  ample  grace  speciall  and  certain  know- 
ledge and  meere  motion  have  given  and  granted  And  by  these  presents 
for  us  our  Heirs  and  Successors  do  give  and  grant  unto  the  said 
Master  Wardens  and  Commaltye  and  their  Successors  That  for  ever 
hereafter  They  have  and  shall  have  tenn  of  the  gravest  and  dis- 
creetest  men  of  the  Art  aforesaid  in  the  City  aforesaid  to  be  chosen 
in  manner  and  form  as  hereafter  in  these  presents  is  expressed  who 
shall  be  and  shall  be  named  Assistants  of  the  same  Mistery  of 
Merchants  Venturers  who  from  time  to  time  shall  be  assistant  and 
aiding  unto  the  said  Master  and  Wardens  of  the  same  Mistery  for 
the  time  being  in  all  causes  and  matters  touching  or  concerning 
the  Mistery  aforesaid  and  the  good  Government  thereof  HltO 
UtOrCOVCt  we  will  and  by  these  presents  for  us  our  Heirs  and 
Successors  do  grant  unto  the  said  Master  Wardens  and  Cominaltye 
and  their  Successors  That  the  same  Master  Wardens  and  Assistants 
(for  the  time  being)  or  the  greater  part  of  them  (whereof  the  Master 
and  one  of  the  Wardens  we  appoint  to  be  two)  may  have  &  shall 
have  full  power  and  authority  to  prescribe  constitute  ordein  &  make 
from  time  to  time  such  Laws  Statutes  and  Ordinances  reasonable 
whatsoever  as  in  their  discreccons  shall  seem  good  wholesome  profit- 
able honest  and  necessary  for  the  good  rule  government  ordering 
surveying  search  and  correccon  of  the  Mistery  or  Art  aforesaid  and 
of  all  the  works  wares  goods  &  merchandizes  which  the  same  Master 
Wardens  and  Cominalty  and  their  Successors  or  any  other  Merchts  or 
other  persons  whatsoever  of  the  City  aforesaid  adventuring  beyond 
the  Seas  shall  export  or  import  out  of  or  into  the  Realm  of  England 
or  Dominion  of  Wales  As  also  of  all  men  &  Merchants  of  the  City 
aforesaid  and  their  Servants  Factors  Apprentices  &  Agents  of  the 
Art  or  Mistery  aforesaid  trading  as  well  in  the  said  City  as  in  the 
parts  beyond  the  Seas  And  also  for  the  declaracon  of  the  manner 
and  order  how  the  aforesaid  Master  Wardens  &  Assistants  for 
the  time  being  shall  behave  carry  and  use  themselves  in  their 
Office  and  Business  and  likewise  for  the  good  and  publick  profitt 
and  rule  of  the  Mistery  aforesaid  and  all  the  ffreemen  of  the 
same  Mistery  As  also  for  the  preservacon  displacing  placing 
and  granting  of  the  Goods  Chatties  Lands  Tenement  possessions 
revercons  &  heredittam*8  given  granted  assigned  or  confirmed  or 


hereafter  to  be   given   granted   or   assigned   unto   the   said    Master 
Wardens   and    Corrunalty   and    their    Successors     And    the    things 
matters  businesses  suits  and  other  causes  whatsoever  of  the  Mistery 
aforesaid  and  touching  or  in  any  wise  concerning  the  Estate  and 
Interest  thereof  And  that  the  said  Master  Wardens  and  Assistants 
or    the    greater   part    of    them    as   is    aforesaid    as    often    as    they 
shall  prescribe  make  ordein  or  establish  such  Laws  Statutes  and 
Ordinances  in  form  aforesaid  shall  and  may  impose  and  assess  such 
reasonable  paines  penaltyes  and  punishments  by  nines  and  Amercia- 
ments  or  either  of  them  upon  all  Delinquents  against  such  Laws 
Statutes  and  Ordinances  or  any  of  them  as  shall  seem  reasonable 
and  requisite  unto  the  same  Master  Wardens  &  Assistants  for  the 
time  being  or  the  greater  part  of  them  as  is  aforesaid  And  the  same 
pains  and  penaltyes  fines  and  amerciaments  may  levey  &  have  by 
Distress  or  other  lawfull  means  by  so   many  and   such   Ministers 
Officers    and    persons    as    the   said    Master  Wardens   &  Cominalty 
under  their  comon  Scale  shall   nominate   To  the  use  of  the  same 
Master  Wardens   &   Cormnalty   and   their   Successors   without   the 
impediment   of   us    our    Heirs   or   Successors    Justices    Escheators 
Sheriffes    Coroners  or    any  other    Bailiffes   or   Ministers  of  us   our 
Heirs  or  Successors  whatsoever  and  without  any  account  or  other 
thing  to  be  therefore  rendered  paid  or  done  unto  us  our  Heirs  or 
Successors  All  and  singuler  which  laws  statutes  &  ordinances  so  as 
is  aforesaid  to  be  made  we  will  have  observed  by  all  &  singuler 
persons  whatsoever  of  the  Cominalty  aforesaid   And  all  other  Mer- 
chants &  others  whatsoever  and  their  Servants  Factors  Apprentices 
and  Agents  of  the  City  aforesaid  Adventurers  beyond  the  Seas  using 
or  exercising  the  Art  or  Mistery  aforesaid  as  well  in  the  City  aforesaid 
as  in  the  parts  beyond  the  Seas  under  the  pains  therein  contained  So 
as  the  aforesaid  Laws  Statutes  Ordinances  Constitutions  ffines  & 
Amerciaments  be  reasonable  &  not  repugnant  nor  against  our  pre- 
rogative or  Laws  or  Customs  of  this  our  Realm  of  England  nor  to 
the  prejudice  of  the  Mayor  of  our  City  aforesaid   And  so  as  also 
these  Statutes  or  Ordinances  be  not  nor  any  of   them  bee  to  the 
prejudice  of  our  well  beloved  Subjects  the  Governor  Assistants  & 
Company   of   Merchants   trading   themselves   their  goods   wares   & 
merchandizes  comonly  called  Merchant  Adventurers  into  the  parts 
of  Holland  Zealand  Braband  &  fflanders  and  other  Country's  Lands 
&  Dominions  to  the  same  parts  adjoining  whereunto  they  resort  & 
frequent  for  Traffick  &  merchandizing  sake  nor  tend  to  the  prejudice 
of  any   Statutes   Ordinances   or   Constitutions    made   published    or 
ordeined  by  the  said  Governor  or  Governors  of  the  same  Societye 
or  hereafter  to  be  made  published  or  ordeined  by  the  same  Governor 


or  Governors  &  Assistants  or  their  Successors.  Httb  for  more  better 
execucon  of  this  our  Grant  &  Confirmacon  we  have  assigned 
nominated  appointed  &  made  And  by  these  presents  for  us  our  Heirs 
and  Successors  Do  assign  nominate  constitute  &  make  our  well 
beloved  Humfrey  Hooke  to  be  the  first  Master  of  the  Art  or  Mistery 
aforesaid  Willing  that  the  said  Humfrey  Hooke  shall  be  &  continue 
in  the  Office  of  Master  from  the  day  of  the  date  of  these  presents 
untill  the  Eleaventh  day  of  November  next  coming  And  from  that 
day  forward  untill  he  or  one  of  the  Wardens  or  Assistants  of  the 
Mistery  aforesaid  for  the  time  being  shall  be  appointed  unto  the  same 
Office  and  be  sworn  according  to  the  Ordinances  &  Constitucons  in 
these  presents  expressed  &  declared  if  the  said  Humfrey  Hooke  shall 
so  long  live  Taking  first  this  Corporall  Oath  before  the  Mayor  and 
Aldermen  of  the  City  aforesaid  for  the  time  being  well  and  faithfully 
to  do  &  execute  the  said  office  Unto  which  said  Mayor  &  Aldermen 
for  the  time  be  We  give  lycense  &  power  for  the  taking  of  the  said 
Oath  by  these  presents.  We  have  also  assigned  nominated  and 
appointed  And  by  these  presents  for  us  our  Heirs  and  Successors  Do 
assign  nominate  and  appoint  our  well  beloved  Gyles  Elbridge  & 
Thomas  Colston  to  be  the  first  &  next  Wardens  of  the  Art  or  Mistery 
aforesaid  to  continue  in  the  same  Office  of  Wardens  from  the  day  of 
the  date  of  these  presents  untill  the  Eleaventh  day  of  November 
next  coming  And  from  that  day  forward  untill  they  or  two  of  the 
Assistants  of  the  Art  or  Mistery  aforesaid  shall  be  appointed  unto 
the  same  Office  or  place  and  sworn  according  to  the  Ordinances  and 
Constitutions  in  these  presents  menconed  if  the  said  Gyles  Elbridge 
and  Thomas  Colston  shall  so  long  live  unless  they  or  one  of  them  in 
the  meantime  by  reason  of  ill  Government  or  misbehaviour  in  them- 
selves in  their  Office  or  for  other  lawfull  Cause  shall  be  dismissed  by 
the  Master  Wardens  &  Assistants  or  the  greater  part  of  them  for 
the  time  being  Taking  first  their  Corporall  Oath  upon  the  Holy 
Evangelists  of  God  well  and  faithfully  to  execute  their  sd  Office 
Unto  which  said  Humfrey  Hooke  we  grant  power  &  authority  to 
minister  and  receive  the  said  Oath.  "QXHe  foa\>£  alSO  aSSiQUCD 
nominated  appointed  and  made  And  by  these  presents  for  us  our 
Heirs  and  Successors  do  assign  nominate  constitute  and  make  our 
well  beloved  John  Tomlinson  Andrew  Charlton  Richard  Longe 
William  Jones  Richard  Aldworth  Alexander  James  Ffrancis  Cres- 
wicke  Miles  Jackson  Gabriell  Sherman  &  William  Cann  the  first 
and  next  Assistants  of  the  Art  or  Mistery  aforesaid  To  continue  in 
the  same  Offices  or  places  from  the  day  of  the  making  of  these 
presents  untill  the  said  Eleaventh  day  of  November  next  coming 
And  from  thenceforth  forwards  untill  they  or  Tenn  others  of  the 


Cominalty  aforesaid  shall  be  appointed  to  the  said  Offices  or  places 
and  Sworn  according  to  the  Ordinances  and  Constitucons  in  these 
presents  menconed  if  the  same  Assistants  shall  so  long  live  unless  in 
the  meantime  by  reason  of  ill  Government  or  misbehaviour  in  their 
said  Offices  or  some  other  lawfull  cause  they  be  displaced  or  some  of 
them  displaced  from  their  said  Offices  Taking  first  their  Corporall 
Oaths  before  the  said  Master  and  Wardens  well  and  faithfully  to 
execute  their  said  Offices  or  places  Unto  which  said  Humfrey  Hooke 
Gyles  Elbridge  and  Thomas  Colston  we  grant  power  and  Authority 
for  to  minister  and  receive  the  said  Oath  by  these  presents  Hl^ 
HlOtCOVCt  we  will  and  by  these  presents  for  us  our  Heirs  and 
Successors  do  grant  unto  the  said  Master  Wardens  &  Cominalty 
and  their  Successors  That  the  Master  Wardens  and  Cominalty 
of  the  Art  or  Mistery  aforesaid  (for  the  time  being)  for  ever  here- 
after may  have  And  shall  have  power  and  authority  yearly  and 
every  year  upon  the  tenth  day  of  November  in  the  Comon  Hall  in 
the  City  aforesaid  called  the  Merchants  Hall  or  other  place  con- 
venient within  the  City  aforesaid  by  themselves  or  the  greater  part 
of  them  to  be  there  assembled  and  continued  And  they  or  the 
greater  part  of  them  then  and  there  assembled  shall  choose  and 
nominate  one  of  the  Cominalty  of  the  Art  or  Mistery  aforesaid 
which  hath  first  born  the  Office  of  Master  Warden  or  Assistant  to 
succeed  to  be  Master  of  the  Comonaltye  aforesaid  one  whole  year 
then  next  following  And  shall  then  nominate  and  choose  two  of  the 
Assistants  of  the  Art  or  Mistery  aforesaid  for  Wardens  of  the  Art  or 
Mistery  aforesaid  for  one  whole  year  then  next  following  And  shall 
then  and  there  also  nominate  and  choose  Tenn  of  the  discreetest 
Men  of  the  Cominalty  aforesaid  to  be  Assistants  of  the  Comonaltye 
aforesaid  to  continue  in  the  same  places  for  one  whole  year  then  next 
following  as  is  aforesaid  ^fUttbCtlllOVC  we  will  And  for  us  our  Heirs 
and  Successors  do  ordein  and  declare  by  these  presents  That  every 
person  and  persons  which  shall  be  hereafter  chosen  into  the  severall 
offices  and  places  of  Master  Wardens  and  Assistants  of  the  Society 
aforesaid  shall  take  this  Corporall  Oath  upon  the  Holy  Evangelists 
of  God  before  the  last  precedent  Master  and  Wardens  or  any  two  of 
them  respectively  of  the  Society  aforesaid  for  the  time  being  well  & 
faithfully  to  execute  the  said  offices  before  they  be  admitted  to  take 
upon  them  their  said  offices  Unto  which  last  precedent  Master  and 
Wardens  and  any  two  of  them  (for  the  time  being)  We  grant 
power  and  Authority  by  these  presents  for  the  ministering  of  the 
said  Oath  And  after  such  Oath  so  taken  They  may  undertake  and 
every  one  of  them  may  undertake  the  Office  of  Master  Wardens 
&  Assistants  of  the  Art  or  Mistery  aforesaid  for  one  whole  year 


then  next  following  And  from  the  end  of  the  said  year  untill  others 
in  due  manner  &  form  shall  be  appointed  to  be  Master  Wardens 
and  Assistants  of  the  Art  or  Mistery  aforesaid  and  sworne  according 
to  the  ordinances  and  constitucons  in  these  presents  menconed 
HltO  ITtOCeOVCt  we  will  and  by  these  presents  for  us  our  Heirs  and 
Successors  do  grant  unto  the  said  Master  Wardens  &  Cominalty 
of  the  Art  or  Mistery  aforesaid  and  their  Successors  That  if  it  shall 
happen  the  Master  of  the  Art  or  Mistery  aforesaid  at  any  time  here- 
after within  one  year  afterwards  he  shall  be  appointed  and  sworn 
unto  that  Office  of  Master  of  the  said  Art  or  Mistery  as  is  aforesaid 
to  decease  or  be  removed  That  then  and  so  often  it  shall  and  may 
be  lawful  for  the  said  Wardens  Assistants  and  Cominaltye  aforesaid 
for  the  time  being  by  themselves  or  the  greater  part  of  them  assembled 
together  within  one  Month  after  the  decease  of  such  Master  in  the 
said  place  called  the  Merchant's  Hall  or  any  other  place  convenient 
within  the  City  aforesaid  to  choose  nominate  and  appoint  one  honest 
and  fitt  man  of  the  said  Cominaltye  of  the  Art  or  Mistery  aforesaid 
who  hath  been  Master  Warden  or  Assistant  of  the  Art  or  Mistery 
aforesaid  to  succeed  in  the  room  and  place  of  the  said  Master  so 
deceased  And  that  such  Master  so  chosen  and  appointed  unto  the 
said  Office  Taking  first  this  Corporall  Oath  before  the  Wardens  of 
the  said  Mistery  in  the  aforesaid  place  called  Merchant's  Hall  or 
other  place  convenient  within  the  City  aforesaid  shall  and  may  have 
and  exercise  the  said  Office  of  Master  during  the  residue  of  the 
said  year  And  from  the  end  of  the  said  year  untill  another  of  the 
said  Society  shall  be  appointed  unto  the  same  Office  in  due  manner 
as  is  aforesaid  And  the  like  course  and  Order  to  be  done  when  and 
so  often  as  any  such  Accident  shall  befall  And  if  the  aforesaid 
Wardens  of  the  Art  or  Mistery  aforesaid  shall  decease  or  either  of 
them  shall  decease  or  be  dismissed  from  their  said  Office  for  lawfull 
cause  as  is  aforesaid  That  then  the  Master  Wardens  and  Assistants 
&  Cominalty  or  the  greater  part  of  them  assembled  in  the  said  Hall 
or  other  place  convenient  within  the  City  aforesaid  shall  and  may 
choose  and  appoint  one  or  more  of  the  Assistants  aforesaid  to 
succeed  into  the  place  or  places  of  such  Warden  or  Wardens  so 
deceasing  or  removed  And  that  he  or  they  so  chosen  and  appointed 
taking  first  his  or  their  Corporall  Oath  before  the  Master  Wardens  & 
Assistants  or  the  greater  part  of  them  unto  whom  we  give  Authority 
by  these  presents  to  minister  the  said  Oath  well  and  faithfully  to 
execute  the  said  Office  or  Offices  unto  which  he  or  they  shall  be 
chosen  appointed  and  sworn  untill  the  Eleaventh  day  of  November 
then  next  following  And  from  that  day  forward  till  some  other  or 
others  shall  be  chosen  and  appointed  unto  the  said  Office  of  Wardens 


in  manner  as  is  aforesaid  And  if  any  Assistant  or  Assistants  of  the 
Art  or  Mistery  aforesaid  shall  decease  or  be  removed  from  his  Office 
(which  Assistant  or  Assistants  or  any  of  them  misbehaving  themselves 
in  their  Office  We  will  shall  be  removed  at  the  good  will  and  pleasure 
of  the  Master  Wardens  &  Cominalty  or  the  greater  part  of  them  for 
the  time  being)  That  then  and  so  often  it  shall  and  may  be  lawfull 
to  and  for  the  said  Master  Wardens  Assistants  &  Cominalty  of  the 
same  Society  for  the  time  being  or  the  greater  part  of  them  assembled 
in  the  said  place  called  the  Merchants  Hall  or  other  convenient  place 
within  the  City  aforesaid  To  choose  one  or  more  of  the  discreetest 
persons  of  the  Cominalty  aforesaid  to  succeed  in  the  place  or  places 
of  such  Assistant  or  Assistants  so  deceased  or  removed  from  his  or 
their  Office  or  Offices  for  to  make  up  the  number  of  Tenn  Assistants 
of  the  Society  aforesaid  And  that  he  or  they  so  chosen  and  appointed 
shall  take  his  or  their  Corporall  Oath  before  the  Master  and  Wardens 
of  the  Art  or  Mistery  aforesaid  for  the  time  being  or  any  two  of  them 
well  and  faithfully  to  execute  their  Office  in  all  things  before  they  be 
admitted  into  the  Office  or  place  of  Assistants  And  the  like  course 
and  order  to  be  done  when  and  so  often  as  any  such  Accident  shall 
befall  Htlt)  our  desire  is  That  the  said  Master  Wardens  and 
Cominalty  may  chearfully  proceed  and  go  forward  in  the  Trade  of 
Merchandizing  And  We  do  by  these  presents  for  us  our  Heirs  and 
Successors  ordein  that  all  and  singuler  the  Fees  payable  and  to  be 
paid  by  the  said  Master  Wardens  and  Cominaltye  or  any  member  of 
the  same  Society  unto  the  Officers  and  Ministers  of  us  our  Heirs  or 
Successors  in  the  Port  of  the  City  of  Bristoll  or  members  thereof 
from  time  to  time  for  executing  their  Offices  shall  be  appointed 
limitted  and  prescribed  by  our  Cheife  Treasurer  of  England  and  under 
Treasurer  for  the  time  being  for  the  Limittacon  appointing  and 
prescribing  of  which  said  Fees  We  do  by  these  presents  give  power 
and  Authority  unto  our  said  High  Treasurer  of  England  and  under 
Treasurer  for  the  time  being  willing  and  by  these  presents  com- 
manding for  us  our  Heirs  and  Successors  All  and  singuler  the 
Officers  and  Ministers  of  us  our  Heirs  and  Successors  within  the 
said  port  and  the  Members  thereof  for  the  time  being  That  in 
executing  their  Offices  there  or  under  colour  thereof  They  do 
not  exact  or  cause  to  be  exacted  any  greater  ffees  of  the  said 
Society  or  any  Member  thereof  under  pain  of  the  Contempt  of 
our  Royal  Commandment  &  the  danger  ensuing  thereupon  Hll£> 
WbCfCaS  the  Lady  Elizabeth  late  Queen  of  England  by  her 
Letters  patients  under  her  great  Scale  of  England  bearing  date  at 
Westminster  the  twelfth  day  of  April  in  the  fifth  year  of  her  reign 
Reciting  that  whereas  in  the  Parliament  holden  at  Westminster  the 


23rd  day  of  January  in  the  first  year  of  her  Reign  It  was  enacted 
that  it  shall  not  be  lawfull  for  any  person  or  persons  after  the  first 
day  of  September  next  after  the  said  Parliament  to  lade  or  cause  to 
be  laden  or  landed  of  and  from  any  Wharfe  Shipp  or  Port  or  other 
place  into  any  Shipp  or  Vessell  any  Goods  Wares  or  Merchandizes 
whatsoever  (Fish  and  salt  only  excepted)  to  be  transported  unto  the 
parts  beyond  the  Seas  or  in  or  to  the  Realm  of  Scotland  Neither  to 
carry  away  discharge  or  unlade  nor  cause  to  be  taken  away  discharged 
or  unladen  out  of  any  Shipp  or  Vessell  being  not  leakey  nor  ship- 
wrecked and  brought  to  land  Any  goods  wares  or  merchandizes 
whatsoever  (Fish  and  salt  only  excepted)  to  be  transported  from  any 
the  parts  beyond  the  Seas  or  from  the  Realm  of  Scotland  by  way  of 
merchandizing  but  only  in  the  day  time  viz.  From  the  first  day 
of  March  till  the  last  day  of  September  between  the  Sunrising  and 
the  going  down  thereof  And  from  the  last  day  of  September  till  the 
first  day  of  March  between  the  hours  Seaven  in  the  morning  and 
Four  in  the  afternoon  upon  pain  of  forfeiture  of  the  same  goods  wares 
and  merchandizes  or  the  value  thereof  soe  laden  and  discharged 
contrary  to  the  Tenor  and  true  meaning  of  the  said  Statute  Hn£> 
WbCrCHS  the  said  late  Queen  Elizabeth  being  informed  that  the  Port 
of  the  City  of  Bristol  (except  only  at  Spring  Tides)  was  so  dangerous 
wanting  depth  of  Water  that  no  great  Shipp  or  Vessell  laden  with 
goods  and  merchandizes  could  approach  unto  the  said  City  by  the 
space  of  four  miles  for  that  the  tide  there  suddenly  ebbed  and  flowed 
and  in  every  spring  not  above  five  or  six  hours  And  then  only  for  six 
days  in  a  Spring  It  was  convenient  to  lade  and  unlade  the  Shipps 
and  Vessells  there  The  said  late  Queen  for  herself  her  Heirs  and 
Successors  by  the  aforesaid  Letters  pattents  Hath  given  and  granted 
Lycence  unto  the  Mayor  Burgesses  and  Cominalty  and  the  Inhabitants 
and  Dwellers  in  the  same  City  That  they  and  all  others  repairing 
unto  the  said  City  Town  and  Port  of  Bristoll  with  Shipps  or  other 
Vessells  laden  or  discharged  for  ever  thenceforwards  without 
incurring  the  penalty  of  the  Statute  aforesaid  may  lade  and  unlade 
their  Shipps  and  Vessells  of  and  with  their  goods  wares  and  merchan- 
dizes And  the  same  land  and  sett  on  shoar  And  also  putt  on  board 
of  any  Ships  or  Vessells  to  be  transported  to  the  parts  beyond  the 
Seas  or  to  the  Realm  of  Scotland  at  any  time  between  the  hours  of 
Four  in  the  morning  and  Eight  in  the  afternoon  The  Statute  aforesaid 
or  anything  therein  contained  to  the  contrary  thereof  in  anywise 
notwithstanding  Saving  the  Customs  and  Subsidies  Tonnadges  & 
Poundages  to  be  therefore  due  unto  the  said  late  Queen  her  Heirs  or 
Successors  As  by  the  said  Letters  pattents  more  plainly  appeareth 
lJ?Ce  that  we  of  our  speciall  favour  unto  the  Merchants  of 


the  said  City  and  for  the  benefit  and  easement  of  the  same 
Merchants  trading  in  the  Port  aforesaid  of  our  special  grace  and 
certain  knowledge  and  meer  motion  Do  will  and  ordein  And  by 
these  presents  for  us  our  Heirs  and  Successors  do  grant  Lycense 
unto  the  said  Master  Wardens  and  Cominalty  of  Merchants 
Adventurers  of  the  City  aforesaide  and  their  Successors  That 
they  and  their  Successors  and  every  Member  of  the  same  Society 
for  the  time  being  coming  and  repairing  unto  the  City  and  Port 
of  Bristol  aforesaid  or  the  Members  thereof  with  Shipps  or  other 
vessells  laden  or  unladen  from  henceforth  for  ever  hereafter  without 
incurring  the  penalty  of  the  aforesaid  Statutes  shall  and  rnay  law- 
fully lade  and  unlade  their  Shipps  and  Vessells  of  and  with  their 
Goods  wares  and  merchandizes  And  the  same  putt  on  Shear  or 
land  there  And  likewise  from  the  land  or  shore  putt  into  any 
their  Shipps  or  Vessells  to  be  transported  unto  the  parts  beyond 
the  Seas  or  to  the  Realm  of  Scotland  any  time  between  the  hours 
of  Four  in  the  morning  and  Eight  in  the  afternoon  every  year  The 
Statutes  aforesaid  or  anything  therein  contained  to  contrary  thereof 
notwithstanding  And  without  the  impediment  suit  molestacon  or 
disturbance  of  us  our  Heirs  or  Successors  or  any  the  Officers  or 
Ministers  of  us  our  Heirs  or  Successors  giving  attendance  in  the 
said  Port  or  the  precincts  thereof  now  or  for  the  time  to  come 
Sa\>ittCJ  always  the  Customs  Subsidies  and  other .  payments  and 
sums  of  money  due  and  payable  to  us,  our  Heirs  and  Successors 
for  the  same  goods  wares  and  merchandizes  Nevertheless  We  will 
and  by  these  presents  for  us  our  Heirs  and  Successors  do  ordein 
and  declare  That  such  lading  and  discharging  of  the  goods  wares 
and  merchandizes  aforesaid  within  the  said  Port  or  the  precincts 
thereof  between  any  of  the  hours  aforementioned  which  shall  be 
contrary  to  the  form  of  the  Statutes  aforesaid  from  time  to  time 
(and  not  otherwise)  be  done  in  the  presence  of  the  Officers  or 
Ministers  of  us  our  Heirs  or  Successors  within  the  Port  aforesaid 
or  some  of  them  unto  whom  the  same  shall  appertain  HllD 
tbCtCfOCC  We  command  all  and  singuler  the  Officers  and  Ministers 
of  us  our  Heirs  or  Successors  within  the  Port  aforesaid  or  the 
precincts  thereof  for  the  time  being  that  at  the  reasonable  request 
of  the  said  Society  or  any  member  thereof  They  be  present  and 
ready  at  such  lading  and  discharging  upon  pain  of  Contempt  of 
our  Royall  Command  and  the  danger  ensuing  thereupon  Forasmuch 
as  there  is  no  express  mention  of  the  true  yearly  value  or  certainty 
of  the  premises  nor  of  any  of  them  Neither  of  other  Gifts  or  Grants 
by  us  or  any  of  our  Progenitors  or  Predecessors  to  the  contrary 
in  any  wise  before  this  time  granted  unto  the  Master  Wardens 


and  Cominalty  of  the  said  Art  or  Mistery  of  Merchant  Venturers 
of  the  City  of  Bristoll  Neither  of  any  Act  Ordinance  Provision 
Proclamation  or  Restraint  to  the  contrary  thereof  made  published 
ordained  or  provided  or  any  other  thing  cause  or  matter  whatsoever 
in  any  wise  notwithstanding  Jn  TKHitlteSS  whereof  we  have 
caused  these  our  letters  to  be  made  patients  IKHitltCSS  myself  at 
Westminster  the  seaventh  day  of  January  in  the  Fourteenth  year 
of  our  Reign. 


Having  obtained  the  above  charter,  the  Society  lost 
no  time  in  revising  its  Ordinances,  and  on  April  4th, 
1639,  the  following  code  of  laws  was  approved  and 
subscribed  by  the  members.  It  will  be  seen  from  the 
document  that  the  Society  tacitly  recognised  the  futility 
of  the  King's  concessions  touching  the  regulation  of 
interloping  local  traders,  who  are  alluded  to  only  obliquely. 
Every  member  of  the  Society  was  forbidden  to  deal  with 
the  wares  of  a  non-member  for  the  purpose  of  either 
exportation  or  importation,  on  pain  of  being  fined  one- 
sixth  the  value  of  such  goods  on  a  first  offence  and  one- 
third  the  value  on  a  second.  No  member  freighting  a 
ship  was  to  permit  a  non-member  or  a  foreigner  to  load 
goods  in  such  vessel ;  and  if  a  non-member  or  foreigner 
freighted  a  ship,  no  member  was  to  place  cargo  in  it 
unless  no  other  was  available.  When  the  goods  of 
strangers,  to  the  value  of  £200  or  upwards,  were  imported 
into  the  city,  they  were  to  be  carried  to  the  Back  Hall, 
and  the  members  of  the  Society,  having  been  thereupon 
duly  summoned,  were  to  choose  four  of  their  body  to 
bargain  for  the  whole  of  the  merchandise,  and  to  allot 
their  purchases  proportionably  amongst  those  desirous 
of  a  share — a  system  reminding  one  of  what  is  vulgarly 
called  a  "knock  out."  Any  member  presuming  to  buy 
on  his  own  account  before  the  selected  four  had  concluded 
their  dealings  was  to  forfeit  one-sixth  of  the  value  of  his 


purchases.  A  Master  neglecting  to  summon  a  Hall  for 
the  above  purpose  was  to  be  fined  £40.  The  only  other 
interesting  item  is  that  requiring  each  member  to  pay  the 
sum  of  fourpence  at  each  of  the  four  quarterly  Halls 
towards  the  funds  of  the  Society  —  the  "  quarterage  "  to 
commence  at  the  following  Candlemas. 

HCteS  ©romances  &  Statutes  made  by  the  Maister 
Wardeins  and  Assistants  of  the  Arte  or  Misterie  of  Merchants 
Adventurers  of  the  Citty  of  Bristol!,  By  vertue  of  letters  Patents 
lately  graunted  by  our  Soveraigne  Lord  King  Charles  to  the  saide 
Company,  bearing  date  at  Westminster,  the  seaventh  day  of  January 
in  the  fourteenth  yeare  of  his  hignes  Raigne  3BlJ?  WbiCb  QtailUt  his 
Maiestie  hath  bine  alsoe  graciously  pleased  to  confirme  other  letters 
patents  heretofore  graunted  to  the  saide  Company  by  King  Edward 
the  Sixt  Bll  WbiCb  HctS  Ordinances  and  Statutes  being  they  are 
made  for  the  good  governement  of  this  Societie,  the  Regulateing  of 
Trade,  the  better  Reliefe  of  the  poore  people  of  their  Almehouse,  the 
Sustentacon  of  decayed  Marchants,  Seamen,  &  theire  widowes,  A 
stipend  for  a  Schole  maister  to  teach  poore  Seamens  children  gratis, 
and  a  Curate  to  read  praier  at  Shirehampton,  neere  vnto  the  Roade 
of  Hungroade,  within  the  Porte  of  Bristoll,  bicause  Shippkeepers 
shall  not  bee  draune  farre  from  theire  Charge,  haveinge  [been] 
publiquely  read  at  a  generall  Court  of  the  saide  Societie,  holden  in 
theire  Common  Hawle,  called  the  Marchants  Hawle,  the  Fourth  day 
of  Aprill  A°  Dni  1639,  were  well  approved  and  allowed  by  the  whole 
Company,  And  in  Testimony  of  such  theire  Acknowledgment  and 
promise  of  observeing  and  performing  the  same  in  all  points,  They 
have  willingly  subscribed  theire  names,  as  in  the  end  of  the  same 
Acte  may  appeare. 

jfor  cboosefno  tbe  /IDafster  Marfcefns  &  Hssistante 

according  to  his  matles  letters  patents  or  Charter,  whoe 
have  power  to  make  Lawes  and  orders  for  Regulating 
of  all  men  tradeinge  to  and  from  this  Cittie. 

tlbat  V>P011  the  tenth  day  of  November  yeerely  and  every 
yeere  The  whole  Societie  are  to  meete  and  assemble  in  the 
marchaunts  Hall,  or  any  other  convenient  place  within  this  Cittie, 
where  the  saide  Societie  or  the  greater  parte  of  them  shall  appoint, 
And  shall  then  choose  and  nominate  one  of  the  Comynaltie  (wch 
hath  first  bine  Maister  Wardein  or  Assistant)  To  be  maister  of 


the  Comynaltie  aforesaide  for  one  whole  yeere  then  next  following, 
And  shall  then  choose  twoe  of  the  Assistants  of  the  saide  Comynalty 
to  bee  Wardens  for  the  saide  one  yeere  following,  And  shall  then 
and  there  alsoe  choose  and  nominate  Tenne  of  the  discreetest  men 
of  the  saide  Comonaltie  to  bee  Assistants  vnto  the  saide  Mr  & 
Wardeins,  And  that  every  person  and  persons  soe  chosen  to  bee 
maister  and  wardeins  shall  take  his  Corporall  oath  vpon  the  Holy 
Evangelists  of  God,  before  the  last  precedent  Maister  and  wardeins, 
or  any  twoe  of  them,  well  and  truely  and  faithfully  to  execute  the 
saide  Offices  according  to  that  forme  of  oath  registred  in  pag:  8 
of  this  booke,  for  administringe  of  which  Oaths  power  is  given 
to  the  precedent  maister  and  wardens  or  any  twoe  of  them,  And 
that  every  Assistant  soe  chosen  (not  being  one  of  the  Assistants 
formerly  sworne)  shall  take  his  Corporall  oath  in  the  same  manner 
before  the  maister  and  wardens  or  any  twoe  of  them,  And  the  like 
Course  to  bee  holden  when  any  maister,  wardens,  or  assistants  dye, 
or  bee  removed,  and  new  chosen  in  theire  places. 

Ube  (Mice  of  tbe  /Ifoatster  ano  Waroeins* 

[As  in  the  Ordinances  of  A.D.  1618.] 

Ube  ©ffice  of  .  Hssf  stants* 

[As  in  the  Ordinances  of  A.D.  1618,  except  that  the  number  is 
to  be  Ten  instead  of  Twelve.] 

©fftce  of  tbe  Ureasourer* 

[As   in   the  Ordinances  of  A.D.    1618.] 

tlbe  ©ffice  of  tbe  Glarfe  &  Bfoole. 

[These  are  to  be  performed  by  one  and  the  same  person  at  a 
salary  of  £8  sterling,  the  duties  being  the  same  as  were  set  out  in 
the  Ordinances  of  A.D.  1618,  when  the  offices  were  separate.] 

Hn  ©roinance  for  "Keeping  of  Courte,  &c* 

[This  varies  in  no  important  particular  from  the  similar 
Ordinance  in  A.D.  1618,  excepting  that  it  requires  "that  there 
shalbee  present  at  every  Courte,  aswell  of  the  Assistants  as  of  the 
Generality,  the  maior  parte  of  the  Assistants,  and  the  maister  and 
one  of  the  wardeins  at  the  least,  or  else  nothing  to  bee  Concluded 
at  that  Courte  where  such  nomber  shall  lack,"  and  that  it  fixes  the 
loth  day  of  November  yearly,  "yf  noe  extraordinary  occasion  shall 
hinder,"  for  the  election  of  officers  and  the  swearing  of  the  Master, 
Wardens,  and  Assistants.] 


[Next  are  set  out  the  remaining  Ordinances  of  A.D.  1618  down 
to  that  "  For  reading  of  letters  and  requests,"  and  in  addition  to 
them  the  following.] 

JfOt  Collecting  tbe  S>UetteS  belonging  to  the  Company 
towards  Relief  of  the  poore  and  other  necessarie  disburse- 
ments for  ye  Society. 

tlbe  COllCCtOt  shall  receyve  the  dueties  of  Kannadge,  plankadge, 
anckoradge,  poundage  of  marriners  wages,  tonnadge  for  the  poore, 
wharfadge,  and  other  dueties  belonging  to  this  Society  as  it  hath 
byn  anciently  accustomed  according  to  the  Rates  wch  shalbee  yeerly 
given  him  in  Charge,  and  haveing  Receyved  the  same  shall  pay  it  in 
and  bee  accomptable  vnto  the  Treasourer  of  this  Societie  requireing 
it,  And  shall  become  bound  with  one  sufficient  suertie  to  bee  allowed 
of  by  the  maister  and  wardeins  for  the  tyme  being  to  make  and  give 
a  iust  and  true  account  vnto  the  saide  Treasourer  of  all  such  money 
as  hee  shall  from  tyme  to  tyme  Receyve  to  the  use  of  the  Company 

tfor  payment  of 

person  beinge  a  brother  or  member  of  this  Societie, 
beinge  lawfully  admitted,  shall  appeare  in  person,  by  himself,  his 
servant  or  friend,  at  the  fower  generall  quarterly  Courte  days, 
being  warned  therevnto,  and  there  pay  vnto  the  Collector  of  the 
hall  Dueties  his  quarteridg  money,  viz.,  fower  pence  every  quarter 
of  a  yeere,  the  which  duetie  of  quarteridg  shall  beginne  from  the 
Feast  of  the  Anunciacon  of  the  blessed  virgin  Mary  next  ensueing 
the  date  hereof,  The  which  Collector,  haveinge  Receyved  it, 
shall  pay  the  same  over  vnto  the  Treasourer  of  this  Societie  for 
the  tyme  beinge,  to  the  vse  and  Common  profitt  of  this  Company. 

1ReCei\>efnCJ  of  Goods   belonging  to  any  person  not 
free  of  this  Societie. 

or  marchant  of  the  saide  Feloweshipp,  nor  noe 
sonne,  servant,  or  Apprentice  of  any  of  this  Societie,  shall  at  any 
time  hereafter  receyue  at  or  in  the  Porte  of  Bristol  aforesaide 
into  his  keepinge,  Any  Cloth  or  other  goods,  wares,  or  marchandice 
of  any  person  or  persons  not  beinge  admitted  a  fellowe  or  brother 
of  this  saide  Company  of  merchants  to  the  intent  to  sell,  carry, 
or  deliver  the  same  Cloth,  goods,  wares,  or  marchandice  into  or 
att  any  Porte,  Creeke,  or  place  beyond  the  Seas,  to  the  vse  or 
profitt  of  the  same  person,  or  of  any  other  not  being  fellowe  of 


the  saide  Company  of  marchants,  Nor  buy  nor  receyue  beyond 
the  Seas  for  any  person  not  being  a  fellowe  or  brother  of  the 
said  Company  of  Marchants,  any  goods,  wares,  or  marchandice 
to  bee  conveyed  from  thence  to  the  said  Porte  of  Bristoll  or  to 
any  other  Porte,  Haven,  Creek,  or  place  within  the  River  of 
Seaverne,  vpon  paine  to  pay  at  first  time  hee  shall  doe  contrary 
to  this  ordinance  of  every  twenty  shillings  of  the  whole  value 
of  the  marchandice  for  wch  hee  shalbee  soe  Atturney  iijs.  injd. 
And  at  the  Second  tyme  vjs.  viij^.  in  every  xxs. 

CbfCfC   labCt   in   every   shipp   or  vessell  to  appoint   the 
tyme   and   place   where   averidge  shalbee  laide. 

GbfefC  lader  with  those  that  haue  the  maior  parte  of 
Tonnadge  in  the  shipp  (his  tonnadge  and  the  rest  being  accounted 
therein)  shall  appoint  the  tyme  and  place  where  the  saide  Averidg 
shalbee  laide  And  the  same  shalbee  approved  of  and  allowed  by 
the  rest  of  the  Laders  haveing  notice  thereof,  and  ofthe  day  and 
place,  given  at  the  Dwelling  house  of  each  lader,  And  if  it  shall 
happen  that  the  Chiefe  Lader,  or  any  other  lader  of  such  shippe, 
shalbee  found  to  bee  remisse  or  Refractory  in  this  order,  either  in 
delayeng  of  the  tyme,  or  not  paieng  of  his  money  according  to  such 
averidg  bill,  every  such  person  soe  offendinge  shall  pay  such  fines 
as  shalbee  agreed  vpon  by  the  Maister,  Wardeins,  and  Assistants, 
or  the  greater  nomber  of  them  accordinge  to  the  quallity  of  the 

^tClll  the  saide  Chiefe  Lader  shall  appointe  a  Collector  to 
receyve  the  said  Averidg,  whoe  shalbee  there  ready  to  attend  at 
the  layeng  and  makeing  thereof. 

cKCllt  the  saide  Chief  Lader  shall  pay  vnto  all  Labouringe 
people  theire  hire  and  dueties  for  dischargeing  of  the  saide  shipp 
or  vessell,  And  alsoe  pay  the  dueties  of  Kannadg,  planckadg, 
anckoradge,  tonnadge  for  the  poore,  poundage  of  marriners  wages, 
wharfadge,  and  other  things  that  are  or  shalbee  paiable  vnto  this 
Society,  and  shall  charge  the  said  dueties  in  the  Averidge  bill. 

3tC11t  It  is  ordered  and  ordayned  that  the  saide  Averadge 
shalbee  laide  as  aforesaide  within  Eight  Dayes  next  after  the 
Discharge  of  every  shippe,  bark,  or  vessell,  And  that,  if  twoe  or 
more  marchants  of  the  greatest  laders  shall  have  equall  tonnadg, 
Then  in  such  case  the  Elder  in  Degree  shalbee  held  to  bee  the 
greatest  lader,  And  the  Collector  of  the  Hawle  Dueties  shall 
deliver  a  note  of  the  same  dueties  vnto  the  saide  greatest  lader  as 
soone  as  any  shippe  or  vessell  is  discharged. 


3for  frafgbtincj  Sbippes, 

1HOC  /IDatCbaitt  being  a.  brother  of  this  Societie  and  Company 
fraighting  any  shippe  from  this  Porte,  or  the  members  of  the  same, 
to  the  Parts  beyond  the  Seas,  or  from  thence  to  this  Porte,  shall 
suffer  any  Stranger  or  Forreiner  not  free  of  this  Societie  to  have 
any  tonnadge  or  ladeing  in  the  saide  Shippe,  And  that  if  any 
Forreyner  or  Stranger  not  free  of  this  Company  shall  fraight  anie 
Shippe  Barke  or  Vessell  to  or  from  this  Porte,  Noe  brother  or 
member  of  this  Societie  shall  take  any  tonnadg  in  such  shippe, 
barke,  or  vessell,  yf  any  fraight  or  Tonnadge  may  at  that  tyme 
bee  had  or  obteyned  in  Shipping  laden,  or  to  bee  laden,  by  any 
of  this  Company,  And  all  Factors,  servants,  Apprentices,  and 
others  of  this  Societie  that  shalbee  ymployed  by  the  Marchants 
of  this  Company  or  any  of  them,  shall  not  enterteyne  any  ymploy- 
ment  to  or  from  this  Citty,  and  Porte  of  Bristoll  for  any  person 
or  persons  not  being  free  of  this  Societie  and  Company. 

3fOl'    tbC    plaCC    aSSiCJlteD    for    bringinge    Strangers    Goods 
vnto,  and  Sellinge  the  same. 

HbC  (B00t>3>  wares,  and  marchandice  of  all  and  every  Stranger 
or  Strangers  to  the  Liberties  of  this  Citty  wch  shalbee  ymported 
into  this  Porte  (from  any  of  the  Parts  beyond  the  Seas)  shalbee 
brought  into  the  Common  place  or  hawle  called  Spicers  Hawle, 
alias  the  Backhawle,  within  this  Citty,  according  to  the  ancient 
Custome,  And  that  whensoever  the  Maister  of  this  Societie 
(for  the  time  being)  shalbee  acquainted  or  informed  of  any  such 
goods,  wares,  or  marchandice  lying  within  the  saide  Hawle  (the 
Quantity  being  such  as  doth  amount  to  the  somme  of  Twoe 
hundred  pounds  or  vpwards)  The  said  Maister  shall  cause  All 
the  Company  of  Marchants  of  this  Societie  to  bee  summoned  to 
appeare  at  theire  Common  Hawle,  there  to  treate  concerning  the 
buyeng  of  the  saide  goods,  And  if  it  shalbee  then  thought  meet 
for  to  deale  for  such  Goods,  There  shalbee  Fower  out  of  Eighte 
indifferent  men  of  the  saide  Company  chosen  and  draune  out  by 
lott,  to  bargaine  and  deale  for  the  saide  Goods,  and  to  allott  and 
appoint  vnto  every  brother,  being  a  member  of  this  Societie,  a 
proporcpnable  parte  of  the  saide  Goods,  according  as  in  theire 
discrecons  shallbee  thought  fitt,  Soe  as  every  such  brother  of 
this  Company  Doe  by  himself,  Friend,  or  servant,  vnderwrite  for 
the  accepting  of  such  parte  thereof  as  shalbee  allotted  vnto  him 
before  that  Court  doe  arise,  And  that  noe  brother  or  member  of 
this  Societie  shall  presume  to  deale  for  any  of  the  said  goods  vntil 
such  tyme  as  those,  whoe  by  this  Company  shalbee  appointed  to 


deale  for  the  same,  have  first  refused  the  buyeng  thereof,  Provided 
they  take  not  aboue  three  days  tyme  for  effecting  it,  Vpon  payne 
of  three  shillings  fower  pence  vpon  every  xxs  value  of  the  whole 
goods  that  shalbee  so  dealt  for,  To  bee  paide  by  him  that  shall 
offend  therein  to  the  vse  of  this  Company  BltO  fUCtbCt  that 
if  the  Maister  of  this  Societie  shall  not  cause  the  Company  to  bee 
summoned  to  treate  and  meete  as  aforesaid  within  three  daies 
next  after  request  or  notice  made  vnto  him  by  any  member  of 
this  Company  The  saide  Maister  shall  forfaite  and  loose  to  the 
vse  of  this  Society  the  Somme  of  Forty  pounds  starlinge  Currant 

3fOt  1RC0Ulating  /IfoaiSterS  Of  SbfppCS  Marriners,  Seamen, 
and  Sailors,  touching  theire  abiding  aborde  theire  Shippes 
in  Kingroade  &  dischargeinge  and  ladeing  them  in 

IKHbeCCaS  the  Roade  of  Kingroade  is  an  open  Road,  And  by 
that  meanes  dangerous  for  Shipping,  Especially  in  the  tyme  of 
Tempestuous  or  Stormye  weather,  and  therefore  not  fitt  to  leave 
shipping  there  without  a  competent  nomber  of  men  to  guard  and 
looke  vnto  them,  And  for  that  when  shippes  are  brought  from  thence 
into  Hungroad  there  to  bee  discharged  of  her  ladeing  of  Goods  and 
marchandice  The  marriners  and  seamen  doe  vsually  vnlade  and 
discharge  theire  shippes  by  Hired  men,  to  the  great  damadge  of  the 
Marchants,  laders,  and  Ouners,  jfot  IRClTtCO^  whereof,  and  for 
the  more  Safety  of  Shippes  and  Goods  It  is  thus  ordered  and  agreed 
That  from  hencefourth  vpon  all  Shipps  arriveing  in  that  Roade  from 
any  the  Parts  beyond  the  Seas,  The  maister  of  every  such  Shippe, 
with  his  Mates,  and  the  whole  Company  (except  such  as  the  Mr  shall 
send  on  shore  vpon  the  Shippes  occasions)  shall  remaine  aborde 
vntill  every  such  Shippe  bee  fast  and  well  moared  in  Hungroad  HllD 
that  vpon  all  Shippes  outwards  bounde  Ridinge  at  anckor  in  King- 
roade aforesaide,  and  there  attendinge  a  Faire  Wynd,  There  shall 
Remayne  aborde  every  such  Shippe,  The  maister,  his  Chiefe  Mate, 
The  Boteswaine,  and  halfe  the  Companie  at  least,  vntill  they  sett 
sayle.  HllO  fOt  all  shippes  dischargeing  in  Hungroade  (during  the 
tyme  of  such  theire  dischargeing  and  vnladeing  theire  goods  & 
mchandtce)  There  shalbee  allwaies  aborde  the  saide  Shippes  The 
Maister  or  one  of  his  mates,  the  Boteswaine  and  Quarter  Maisters, 
with  a  competent  nomber  of  the  saide  Shipps  Company  to  discharge 
and  vnlade  the  saide  Shippe,  And  shall  not  make  vse  of  any  hired 
.men  in  doeing  the  same.  And  if  any  Maister,  marriner,  or  other 
Seaman  bee  Refractory,  and  will  not  submitt  to  these  good,  Reason- 


able,  and  necessarie  Orders,  Hee  shalbee  held  unworthie  to  Receyve 
any  ymployment  from  this  Societie,  And  there  shalbee  defaulted  out 
of  his  wages  and  hire,  for  every  such  offence,  one  Eight  parte  of 
every  such  Offenders  wages,  to  the  vse  and  Reliefe  of  the  decayed 
Seamen  in  the  Marchants  theire  Almehouse,  and  of  other  poore  wch 
haue  Reliefe  from  this  Company. 

for:  TRegulatetncj  of  /Ifcafsters,  /Ifoarriners,  and  Seamen, 

touching  the  Goods  and  marchandise  wch  they,  and  euery 
of  them,  shall  carry  in  theire  voyadge. 

"CClbCtCaS  the  Maisters,  Marriners,  and  other  seamen  saileing 
to  and  from  this  Porte,  Have  of  late  very  often  taken,  vpon  theire 
creditt  and  other  waies,  divers  goods  and  marchandice  of  great  value, 
And  carried  the  same  in  the  shippes  (wherein  they  have  byn  hired) 
vnto  the  partes  beyond  the  Seas,  And  in  Returne  thereof  have  brought 
home  in  the  saide  Shippes  divers  other  wares  and  marchandice,  And 
all,  or  the  moste  parte  thereof,  without  the  leave,  privitie,  or  knowledg 
of  the  Ouners  of  the  saide  Shippes,  or  Marchants  whoe  tooke  the 
saide  Shippes  to  Fraight,  To  the  great  prejudice  of  the  saide  Mar- 
chants,  by  gettinge  the  same  privately  into  and  from  the  shipps 
without  paieng  any  fraighte  to  the  Marchant  or  Ouner,  And  without 
paieng  his  matle"  Customes  or  any  other  dueties,  Whereby  his  maiesty 
is  much  deceyved,  and  the  marchants  dishartened  and  disencouraged 
in  theire  trade  3t  fg  therefore  ordered  and  agreed  That  from  hence- 
forth Noe  Maister  of  Shippeing,  Marriner,  or  other  Seaman  shall 
putt  any  goods,  or  marchandice  aborde  any  Shippe,  barke,  or  vessell, 
or  take  any  on  shore,  vntill  they  have  made  known  vnto  twoe  of  the 
Chiefe  laders,  and  twoe  of  the  Chiefe  Ouners  the  quallity  and  quantity 
thereof,  And  then  Receyve  theire  approbacon  for  the  lading  of  the 
same,  And  what  orders  the  saide  Chiefe  Laders  and  Chiefe  Ouners 
shall  make  touching  the  same  shalbee  approved  of  and  allowed  by 
the  generall  Laders  and  ouners  of  such  shippe.  Butt  if  any  Maister, 
Marriner,  or  Seaman  shall  neglect  to  doe  as  aforesaide,  Hee  shall  pay 
double  the  value  of  the  Fraight  of  all  such  goods  as  hee  or  they  shall 
carry  And  the  Chiefe  Lader  of  such  Shipp,  and  Chiefe  Ouner  of  the 
same  shall  cause  the  aforesaide  double  Fraight  to  bee  shortned  out  of 
their  wages  at  the  pay  day,  And  that  it  may  bee  the  better  knowne 
what  goods  they  doe  carry  forth  or  bring  home  Every  Boteswayne 
and  Purser  of  every  such  Shippe  shalbee  required  vpon  paine  of  the 
losse  of  theire  wadges  To  enforme  the  saide  Chief  Laders  and 
Chiefe  Ouners  of  the  quantety  and  quallitie  of  such  theire  Goods, 
And  the  Factor  or  Factors  employed  in  sale  of  the  marchants  goods 
in  such  Shippe  shall  vse  his  and  theire  best  endeavours  To  enquire 


and  finde  out  what  theire  goods  are,  And  shall  informe  the  marchants 
thereof,  that  Course  may  bee  taken  against  them  HtlO  if  any  Maister, 
Marriner,  or  Seaman  shall  hereafter  bringe  home  in  Returne  of  the 
goods  allowed  him  to  carry  out  Any  Wynes,  They  shall  soe  order  it 
amongest  themselves  That  it  shalbee  brought  in  Butts  or  hogsheads, 
and  noe  lesser  Caske. 

tbe  Execution  of  tbe  ©romances. 

[As  in  the  Ordinances  of  A.D.  1618,  with  the  following  addition.] 

HttO  It  is  further  ordered  and  agreed  vpon  That  the  Clerke 
of  this  Societie  shall  forthwith  bring  into  the  Hall,  and  deliver  to 
the  Wardeins,  All  bookes,  copies  of  writings,  coppies  of  letters, 
and  all  other  papers  whatsoever  that  may  any  way  concerne  this 
Company,  That  the  same  may  bee  laide  vpp  amongest  theire 
other  Writings,  And  from  hencefourth  theire  saide  Clarke  shall 
not  make  any  writings,  or  enter  any  Acts  or  Orders  that  concernes 
this  Company  in  any  other  place  then  in  the  Common  Hawle,  called 
the  Marchants  Hawle,  vnlesse  hee  shall  haue  leave  from  the  Maister 
and  Wardeins,  And  shall  allwaies  bring  and  leave  the  key  of  the 
Hawle  with  the  Maister  for  the  tyme  being. 

[Here  follow  the  Signatures  of  the  Members  of  the  Company.] 

The    xjth    of    November    1639. 

Att  a  generall  Courte  of  the  Master,  Wardens,  and  Coialty  of 
the  arte  or  mistery  of  Marchants  Adventurers  of  the  Citty  of  Bristoll 
in  ample  nomber  assembled  in  their  Comon  Hawle ;  It  was  agreed 
that  not  onjy  at  this  tyme,  but  at  all  tymes  hereafter,  the  manner  of 
eleccon  of  the  Master,  Wardens,  and  Assistants  shalbe  thus  (viz*) 
the  Master  to  be  chosen  (for  the  tyme  being)  shalbe  chosen  out  of 
three,  whereof  one  to  be  named  by  the  Mr  (for  the  tyme  being)  one 
by  the  Wardens  and  Assistants,  and  the  Third  by  the  Coialty,  and 
according  to  this  order  the  Master,  Wardens,  and  Assistants  are 
this  day  chosen  and  sworne,  being  this  psent  Eleaventh  day  of 
November,  1639. 

In  1643,  during  the  occupation  of  Bristol  by  the 
Royalist  garrison,  the  King  granted  the  Society  another 
Charter,  by  which,  in  consideration  of  the  loyalty  and 
fidelity  of  the  merchants  of  Bristol  to  his  Majesty's  cause, 
he  conceded  them  free  intercourse  with  the  regions  to 


which  various  London  Companies  had  previously  enjoyed 
a  monopoly  of  trade.  The  following  is  transcribed  from 
a  copy  dating  from  1669,  preserved  in  the  Hall : — 

H  COpiC  of  the  Charter  granted  by  Kinge  Charles  the  First 
at  Oxford. 

GbfltlCS  by  the  grace  of  God,  Kinge  of  England,  Scotland, 
Fraunce,  and  Ireland,  Defender  of  the  Fayth  &c.  ^0  Hll  to  whome 
these  presents  shall  come  Greeting  TKUbCtCaS  by  our  Letters 
Patents  vnder  our  great  Scale  of  England  Wee  have  heretofore 
graunted  that  the  Merchants  of  our  Citty  of  Bristoll  should  be 
incorporated  and  made  a  Body  Politique  to  have  contynuance  for 
ever  by  the  name  of  Master,  Wardens,  Treasurer,  and  Assistants  of 
the  Company  of  Merchants  Adventurers  of  the  Citty  of  Bristoll,  but 
they  are  yet  restrayned  from  that  free  Trade  vnto  divers  forraine 
parts  which  some  other  Companyes  of  Merchants  by  the  favour  of 
vs  and  our  Auncestors  and  Predecessors  Kings  and  Queenes  of  this 
Realme  have  enjoyed  and  doe  enjoy  Hilt)  WbCtCSS  our  good  and 
lovinge  Subjects  the  Merchants  of  the  said  Citty  of  Bristoll  have 
expressed  their  loyalty  and  fidelity  vnto  vs  in  these  late  tymes  of 
difficulty  when  our  Citty  of  London  and  the  Cittizens  and  Merchants 
thereof  who  have  held  and  enjoyed  many  more  priviledges  and 
Imunityes  for  the  advancing  of  a  free  and  ample  trade  into  all 
Forraine  parts  have  forgotten  their  duty  vnto  vs  and  many  of  them 
have  trayterously  rebelled  against  vs  their  Soveraigne  &  Leige  Lord 
IkllOWC  ^C  therefore  that  we,  for  the  encouragement  of  our  said 
Subjects  the  Merchants  of  Bristoll  and  others  by  their  Example  to 
contynue  faithfull  and  constant  vnto  vs  and  to  our  Crowne  of 
England  in  their  duty  and  allegiance  vnto  vs,  Have  given  and 
graunted,  And  by  these  presents,  for  vs  our  heires  and  Successors 
doe  give  and  graunt  vnto  the  said  Maister,  Wardens,  Treasurer,  and 
Assistants  of  the  Company  of  Merchants  Adventurers  of  Bristoll 
and  their  Successors  That  they  and  their  Successors  and  all  or  any 
and  every  of  the  Members  for  the  tyme  being  of  the  said  Company, 
by  themselves  or  their  Factors,  Agents,  or  servants,  shall  and  may 
have  a  free  Trade  and  Comerce  with  their  Shipps  and  other  vessels 
and  their  goods  and  merchandizes  vnto  and  from  all  those  parts  and 
places  beyond  the  Seas  whither  the  Eastland  or  Russia  Companies 
of  London  doe  or  may  trade,  And  to  and  from  the  Hanse  Townes, 
and  any  Townes,  Ports,  or  places  where  the  Company  of  Merchant 
Adventurers  of  London  doe  or  may  trade,  and  to  and  from  any  the 
Ports  or  places  in  the  Levant  Seas  where  any  of  our  Merchants  of 


the  Turky  Company  doe  trade,  and  to  and  from  any  Ports  or  places 
under  the  Comand  or  Domynion  of  the  Kinge  of  Denmarke  or  great 
Duke  of  Muscovye,  Hll  which  Liberty  and  Freedome  of  Trade  and 
Traffique  in,  vnto,  and  from  any  the  Ports  and  places  aforesaid,  Our 
will  and  pleasure  is,  And  wee  doe  fully  and  freely  graunt  vnto  the 
said  Company  of  Merchant  Adventurers  of  our  said  Citty  of  Bristoll 
in  as  full,  ample,  and  beneficiall  maner  as  we  can  graunt  the  same 
Httfc  WC  fcOC  for  us,  our  heires  and  Successors,  covenant,  promise, 
and  graunt  to  and  with  the  said  Company  of  Merchants  to  renewe, 
strengthen,  and  enlarge  this  our  Graunt  and  to  doe  such  other  Acts 
for  their  better  enjoying  of  the  benefit!  thereby  graunted,  or  intended 
to  be  graunted,  in  such  maner  and  as  farr  as  by  their  Counsell  shalbe 
reasonably  advised,  and  as  shalbe  best  for  the  setling  and  enlarging 
of  their  said  trade  and  for  the  removeing  and  avoyding  of  any  restreint 
or  impediment  that  may  hinder  the  said  Trade  Sa\>Cftt(}  allwaies  to 
vs  our  heires  and  Successors  from  our  said  Subjects  the  Merchants 
Adventurers  of  Bristoll,  their  Factors,  Agents,  and  Servants,  to  be 
duly  payd  vnto  vs  and  to  our  Successors,  or  to  our  vse,  such  Customes 
and  other  duties  and  payments  vpon  and  for  their  merchandize  and 
goods  to  be  exported  and  imported  as  from  tyme  to  tyme  shall  become 
due  and  payable  to  vs  our  heires  and  Successors  in  that  respect 
3tl  WitnCS  whereof  we  have  caused  these  our  Lres  to  be  made 
Patents  WitltCS  our  Selfe  at  Oxford  the  Two  and  twentith  day 
of  December  in  the  Nyneteenth  yeare  of  our  Raigne. 

Per  breve  de  private  Sigillo 


This  is  a  true  Copie  of  the  originall  vnder  the  great  Scale, 
examed  the  eight  and  twentith  Day  of  May,  Anno  Dni  1669. 

By  us 


Soon  after  the  Restoration  of  Charles  the  Second,  the 
Society  appointed  a  committee,  which  was  directed  to 
apply  for  a  renewal  of  the  charters,  "with  such  additional 
privileges  as  may  conduce  to  the  benefit  of  the  Company." 
In  April,  1661,  the  charters  were  sent  up  to  the  members 
of  Parliament  for  the  city,  with  instructions  to  prosecute 
the  Society's  suit ;  but  their  exertions  were  fruitless.  In 
November,  1665,  the  subject  was  revived,  and  the  Hall 


once  more  resolved  to  apply  for  a  new  charter  and  a 
confirmatory  Act  of  Parliament.  The  issue  was  as 
disappointing  as  before.  In  November,  1667,  a  new 
committee  was  appointed  to  press  the  matter  forward, 
and  also  to  procure,  if  possible,  an  Act  of  Parliament 
prohibiting  the  manufacture  of  white  soap  from  tallow  or 
any  kind  of  oil  save  olive  oil  alone.  In  the  following 
March  a  member  of  the  Society,  Richard  Elsworth,  was 
directed  to  ride  to  London  to  promote  the  objects  in  view, 
and  was  furnished  with  £50,  afterwards  increased  to  £100 
with  a  promise  of  more,  "  so  as  we  do  not  fail  in  our 
hoped  desire,"  the  agent  being  especially  requested  to 
seek  the  support  of  the  members  for  the  city,  the  Recorder 
(Sir  Robert  Atkyns)  and  some  "  popular  leading"  Com- 
moners, as  well  as  all  the  London  merchants  sympathising 
with  the  soap  project.  It  being  presently  found  that  the 
Bills  could  not  be  obtained  during  the  current  Session, 
Elsworth  was  instructed  to  carry  on  his  campaign  with 
the  Londoners  on  the  soap  question  "  as  private  as 
possible,"  so  that  the  scheme  might  be  secretly  ripened 
for  the  following  year,  and  in  the  meantime  to  use  every 
exertion  to  obtain  the  confirmation  of  the  charters  by  the 
King.  The  committee's  letter  to  the  above  effect  contains 
the  curious  admission  that  they  were  pursuing  this  course 
in  despite  "  of  many  opposers  and  dissenters  of  this 
Company."  It  further  appears  that  the  Mayor  (Edward 
Morgan),  five  aldermen,  and  two  councillors — of  whom 
four  were  members  of  the  Hall  Committee — despatched 
another  "  Certificate"  in  support  of  the  Society's  appeal. 
In  1669,  and  again  in  1670,  solicitations  were  renewed  by 
Elsworth,  who,  besides  being  one  of  the  Customers  of 
Bristol,  held  a  petty  sinecure  office  in  the  royal  household, 
and  had  received  a  knighthood ;  but  his  efforts  proved 
wholly  ineffectual.  The  project  being  at  last  abandoned 


in  despair,  the  agent  sent  in  a  bill  of  additional  expenses, 
amounting  to  £182  us.  2d.,  some  of  the  money  having 
been  spent  in  an  entertainment  of  the  Duke  of  Albemarle, 
presents  of  wine  "to  several,"  and  "fees"  —  meaning  bribes 
—  to  Court  officials.  The  committee  struck  off  more  than 
half  the  charges,  but  eventually  paid  ^125  175.  iod.t 
including  ^50  to  Elsworth  "for  his  paines."  All  that  was 
ever  extracted  from  Charles  the  Second,  in  fact,  was  a 
Charter  granted  in  June,  1665,  baldly  exemplifying  the 
second  charter  of  his  father.  The  following  is  a  copy, 
with  translation  :  — 

SeCUn&US,  E>ef  Sratfa,  Angliae,  Scotiae,  Franciae, 
et  Hiberniae  Rex,  fidei  Defensor  &c,  omnibus  ad  quos  hae  litterae 
nostrae  pervenerint  salutem,  3^nSpCJlttlUS  Irrotulamentum  quandem 
litterarum  patentium  precharissimi  nup.  patris  nostri  Domini 
Caroli  nuper  Regis  Angliae  defuncti  geren.  dat.  apud  Oxon. 
vicesimo  tertio  Die  Decembris  anno  regni  sui  Decimo  nono  in 
Rotulis  Curiae  Cancellarise  nostrae  irrotulat.  ibidemque  de  Recordo 
remanen.  in  haec  verba  Charles  by  the  grace  of  God,  King  of 
England,  Scotland,  Fraunce  and  Ireland  &c.  [reciting  the  last 
Charter  of  King  Charles  I.  word  for  word]  1R.OS  aUtCttl  tenorem 
Irrotulamenti  predicti  ad  requisicoem  predicte  Societatis  Mercator. 
Bristoll.  duximus  exemplificand.  per  presentes  Jft  GlUUS  tCf 
testimonium  has  litteras  nostras  fieri  fecimus  patentes  TTCStC 
me  ipso  apud  Westmonasterium  vicesimo  tertio  die  Junii  anno 
regni  nostri  decimo  septimo. 



CbarlCS  tfoe  SCCOnt),  by  the  grace  of  God,  of  England, 
Scotland,  France  and  Ireland  King,  Defender  of  the  Faith,  &c., 
unto  all  to  whom  these  our  letters  shall  come,  greeting  7KHC  ftaVC 
SCCn  the  inrolment  of  certain  letters  patent  of  our  late  very  dear 
father,  Lord  Charles,  late  King  of  England,  deceased,  bearing 
date  at  Oxford  the  twenty  third  day  of  December  in  the 
nineteenth  year  of  his  reign,  inrolled  in  the  Rolls  of  our  Court 
of  Chancery  and  there  remaining  on  record  in  these  words 
Charles,  by  the  grace  of  God,  [quoting  the  Charter  word  for 
word]  Tide  tbCl'CfOUC  at  the  request  of  the  aforesaid  Society 
of  Merchants  of  Bristol  consider  that  the  tenor  of  the  Inrolment 


aforesaid   should    be  exemplified    by   these  presents  Jit  WftltCS& 

WbCrCOf   we  have  caused    these  our  letters  to   be  made  patent 

TTCUtltCSS  myself    at   Westminster  the   23rd  day  of  June  in  the 
1 7th  year  of  our  reign. 

How  little  was  really  gained  in  the  way  of  suppressing 
interlopers  may  be  inferred  from  the  remarks  of  Roger 
North,  who  was  an  acute  observer  of  local  events  during 
his  visits  to  Bristol  as  Recorder  a  few  years  later,  and  who 
observes  in  his  amusing  reminiscences,  which  are  far  from 
complimentary  to  local  merchants,  that  "petty  shop- 
keepers, and  the  like,"  constantly  ventured  a  bale  of 
stockings,  or  a  piece  of  stuff,  in  vessels  bound  for  Nevis 
or  Virginia. 



FROM  the  beginning  until  nearly  the  middle  of  the 
seventeenth  century  the  Society,  and  indeed  the  citizens 
of  Bristol  generally,  suffered  much  grievous  oppression 
under  the  arbitrary  rule  of  the  first  two  kings  of  the 
House  of  Stewart.  Detailed  information  on  the  subject, 
however,  has  mysteriously  disappeared  from  the  Society's 
archives,  the  earliest  Minute  Book  of  the  Standing 
Committee  now  in  existence  commencing  so  late  as  1639 
— nearly  ninety  years  after  the  charter  of  incorporation 
granted  by  Edward  the  Sixth.  Possibly  an  explanation 
of  this  remarkable  circumstance  is  to  be  found  in  a 
memorandum  inserted  in  a  contemporary  Minute  Book 
at  the  Council  House,  dated  I5th  January,  1640  (1641), 
from  which  the  following  is  an  extract : — 

"That  a  letter  be  written  to  the  burgesses  now  serving 
in  Parliament  ...  to  seek  reformation  and  redress 
against  such  persons  as  by  unjust  informations  to  his 
Majesty,  or  by  their  illegal  and  unwarrantable  proceedings, 
have  injured  and  abused  the  merchants  of  this  city,  and 
by  entering  into  the  Merchants  Hall,  taking  away  their 
book  of  accounts  and  other  writings,  and  procuring  many 
of  the  inhabitants  of  this  city  to  be  pursuivanted  up  [to 
London]  and  unjustly  handled  and  ill-dealt  with." 

Dealing  with  this  long  period  of  obscurity  in  the  only 
manner  now  practicable,  namely  by  resorting  to  the 
manuscripts  of  the  Corporation,  to  the  Journals  of  Parlia- 
ment, and  to  the  State  Papers  in  the  Record  and  Privy 


Council  Offices,  it  may  be  observed  that  the  earliest 
grievance  protested  against  by  the  mercantile  body  was 
the  royal  demand  for  "purveyance" — a  prerogative  that 
had  led  to  crying  abuses  in  the  closing  years  of  Elizabeth, 
and  was  revived  by  James  the  First  immediately  after  his 
accession.  Bristolians  had  been  previously  exempted 
from  this  burden  on  account  of  their  liability  to  another, 
of  very  ancient  date.  They  had  been  accustomed  to 
submit  to  the  royal  claim  for  "  prisage,"  under  which  the 
Crown  Officers  had  taken  one  tun  of  wine  out  of  every 
cargo  of  10  tuns,  and  two  out  of  every  shipload  of  20 
tuns  landed  at  the  port — choosing  always  the  best  samples, 
and  paying,  or  rather  promising  to  pay,  about  a  fifth  of 
the  value  of  the  "prise."  The  effect  of  this  exaction 
was  to  raise  the  price  of  Bristol  wines  at  least  205.  per 
tun  in  excess  of  the  wines  of  London  and  Southampton, 
where  prisage  was  unknown.  In  1601,  however,  the 
Government  for  the  first  time  demanded  from  Bristol 
merchants  a  "composition  for  purveyance,"  by  which  the 
local  burden  would  have  been  practically  doubled.  The 
encroachment  was  firmly  resisted,  and  though  some 
exactions  were  levied  in  1603,  the  agents  who  carried  them 
out  were  prosecuted  and  convicted  in  the  Mayor's  Court ; 
to  the  great  wrath  of  their  superiors,  the  Board  of  Green 
Cloth,  who  angrily  rebuked  the  Mayor  (Alderman  Whitson) 
for  his  contempt  of  the  royal  prerogative,  and  informed 
him  that  he  would  have  been  brought  up  to  Whitehall 
under  arrest  but  for  his  official  duties  during  the  prevalence 
of  the  Plague.  At  the  opening  of  King  James's  first  Parlia- 
ment in  1604,  the  undismayed  Alderman,  through  Mr. 
Thomas  James,  one  of  the  members  for  the  city,  brought  the 
matter  under  the  attention  of  the  House  of  Commons,  and 
Mr.  James  made  a  personal  protest  against  the  insolence 
with  which  he  had  been  treated  by  one  of  the  Crown 


officials.  Complaints  of  a  similar  character  were  made 
on  behalf  of  several  other  towns,  and  the  House 
emphatically  petitioned  the  new  monarch  for  redress, 
declaring  that  purveyance  was  rife  with  tyrannical  abuses, 
although  it  had  been  declared  illegal  in  no  less  than 
thirty-six  statutes,  and  that  the  merchants  of  Bristol 
had  especially  suffered,  large  sums  having  been  extorted 
from  them,  and  many  having  been  kept  in  prison  until 
they  paid  heavy  fees  to  the  pursuivants.  The  King, 
in  reply,  expressed  his  anxiety  to  remove  grievances, 
adding  that  measures  had  been  taken  to  avoid  the 
recurrence  of  complaints,  and  the  House  allowed  the 
subject  to  drop.  (Commons'  Journals.)  The  issue  was 
characteristic  of  the  new  reign.  The  King  angrily 
prorogued  Parliament  in  July,  owing  to  the  Commons 
persisting  in  the  discussion  of  various  grievances ;  and 
the  abuses  in  Bristol  were  at  once  revived  under  a 
new  royal  warrant,  authorising  the  extraction  of  com- 
positions both  for  wines  and  groceries.  Two  deputations 
were  sent  up  to  Court  by  the  Corporation  (and  probably 
by  the  Society)  praying  for  relief,  and  a  good  deal  of 
money  seems  to  have  been  spent  in  "gratifying"  the 
underlings  at  Whitehall,  but  these  efforts  were  unavailing, 
and  Mr.  John  Aldworth,  a  member  of  the  Society,  under- 
went imprisonment  for  refusing  to  pay  the  imposts. 
Moreover,  when  the  King  repaired  to  Woodstock  in 
1605,  his  purveyors  made  their  appearance  in  Bristol, 
and  seized  51  hogsheads  of  claret,  appraised  at  £14  i6s. 
per  tun,  and  10  butts  of  sack,  worth  ^13  each,  for  which 
nothing  was  paid,  the  Society  having  to  satisfy  the 
owners  by  borrowing  from  the  Corporation,  which  re- 
couped itself  by  levying  a  due  upon  foreign  imports.  A 
few  months  later  a  duty  on  currants,  which  the  King 
imposed  without  Parliamentary  sanction,  was  declared 



by  the  Court  of  Exchequer  to  be  legal  by  virtue  of  the 
royal  prerogative,  and  in  1608  the  Lord  Treasurer 
Salisbury,  availing  himself  of  the  resource  thus  temptingly 
offered  to  him,  issued  a  new  tariff  increasing  the  duties 
on  many  articles  of  commerce,  some  of  the  imposts  being 
styled  "  compositions  for  purveyance."  The  Bristol 
merchants,  who  had  been  harried  in  the  previous  year 
in  respect  both  of  groceries  and  wine,  now  earnestly 
petitioned  for  exemption  from  the  additional  wine  duty, 
pleading  the  burden  they  endured  from  prisage,  and 
Lord  Salisbury  ultimately  submitted  their  case  to  the 
Court  of  Exchequer.  In  1609  Lord  Chief  Baron  Tanfield 
with  his  colleague,  Sir  George  Snygge,  accordingly  sum- 
moned the  merchants,  who  complained  of  the  hardship 
of  their  case,  urging  amongst  other  arguments  that  while 
the  Government  was  seeking  to  mulct  them  both  for 
prisage  and  purveyance,  wines  could  be — as  in  fact  they 
were — imported  into  Chepstow  free  from  both  imposts. 
The  learned  judges  nevertheless  reported  to  the  Lord 
Treasurer  that  after  the  King's  prerogative  had  been 
proved  to  the  merchants  the  latter  had  submitted  so 
far  as  to  bear  purveyance  whenever  the  Court  came 
within  twenty  miles  of  the  city.  As  regarded  the  com- 
position for  groceries,  the  merchants  pleaded  that  they 
had  none  save  what  were  brought  from  London  'and 
"  Lixbon,"  and  that  the  Londoners  bought  in  East 
India  and  Turkey,  where  Bristolians  were  not  allowed 
to  trade ;  but  in  this  matter  also,  wrote  the  judges,  they 
submitted  to  the  same  conditions  as  regarded  wine, 
which  their  lordships  adjudged  to  be  a  satisfactory 
compromise.  The  relief  was  but  temporary.  In  1612 
the  Lord  Treasurer  issued  a  mandate  for  the  levying 
of  55.  per  tun  on  all  sweet  wines  imported  into  Bristol. 
A  deputation  hurried  to  Court  imploring  relief,  and  the 


solicitations  continued  in  1613  and  1614,  causing  the 
Society  a  large  outlay  for  travelling  expenses.  A  man 
who  had  farmed  the  new  tax  from  the  Crown  in  the 
meantime  raised  an  action  in  the  Court  of  Exchequer 
for  the  sum  alleged  to  be  due— a  payment  of  £100  made 
to  him  by  the  Society  to  be  freed  from  the  burden  being 
coolly  ignored.  The  result  does  not  appear.  In  1613 
the  Queen  sojourned  at  Bath,  paying  also  a  visit  to 
Bristol,  and  enormous  demands  were  made  by  the 
purveyance  officers,  about  7,400  gallons  of  wine,  and 
groceries  to  the  value  of  ^360,  being  wrung  from  the 
defenceless  Bristol  merchants.  All  that  could  be  got 
from  the  Treasury  in  payment  of  the  account  was  £220* 
The  balance,  about  £800,  was  advanced  by  the  Corpora- 
tion, who  were  not  reimbursed  until  1617,  when  part 
of  the  King's  debt  for  the  Woodstock  wines  taken  eleven 
years  before  was  also  recovered,  but  not  until  more  than 
/i  20  had  been  expended  in  bribes  to  Court  officials. 

After  a  few  years  quietude,  Lord  Treasurer  Middlesex,, 
in  November,  1622,  ordered  a  fresh  enforcement  of  the 
composition  for  purveyance  on  the  scale  paid  in  London, 
repudiating  Chief  Baron  Tanfield's  compromise  and 
judgment  on  the  ground  that  Baron  Snygge,  who  had 
concurred  in  the  decision,  was  by  birth  a  Bristolian.  The 
Society,  in  a  letter  to  the  Master,  Alderman  Guy,  M.P., 
then  in  London,  expressed  their  determination  to  resist. 
If,  however,  the  Master  thought  that  a  gift  of  "£50  to- 
the  Remembrancer,  and  some  thankful  acknowledgment 
to  the  Lord  Treasurer  (all  not  exceeding  £100)  may  stop 
this  gap  and  ease  us  from  further  demands,"  the  Society 
would  be  content  to  bear  the  expenditure.  (Letter  Book.) 
The  "thankful  acknowledgment"  appears  to  have  effected 
its  purpose,  for  in  February,  1623,  the  Lord  Treasurer 
ordered  the  Customs  officers  to  forbear  from  taking  ready 


money  on  account  of  the  composition  for  groceries,  but 
to  obtain  bonds  for  future  payment  when  such  was 
demanded ;  and  they  were  also  directed  to  give  three 
months  credit  to  the  merchants  for  the  135.  4^.  per  tun 
due  for  wines.  These  concessions  probably  explain  an 
item  in  the  Society's  accounts : — "  Given  in  gold  to 
Mr.  William  Willett,  Collector  of  this  port,  for  his 
courtesies,  ^n."  The  relief  seems  to  have  been  only 
transient,  for  on  March  2Qth,  1625,  William  Barrett, 
the  King's  Grocer,  in  consideration  of  £110  paid  to  him 
by  the  Corporation,  released  the  citizens  of  Bristol  of 
all  claims  for  purveyance  of  groceries  for  the  term  of  his 
life.  (Society's  Book  of  Trade.)  Nevertheless,  in  1631, 
a  composition  in  lieu  of  grocery  purveyance,  together  with 
an  entirely  new  impost  on  Levant  oil,  was  demanded  by 
the  Board  of  Green  Cloth,  and  Messrs.  Hooke  and 
Colston,  the  two  members  of  the  Society  delegated  to 
negotiate  by  the  Corporation,  knowing  the  subservience 
of  the  judges  to  the  behests  of  the  King,  consented  to 
pay  the  royal  Grocer  £100  on  account  of  arrearages,  and 
£66  135.  4^.  each  following  year  in  lieu  of  purveyance. 
The  King  was  to  have  power  at  any  time  to  terminate 
this  agreement,  from  which  non-burgesses  and  foreigners 
were  excluded.  The  illegal  abuse  was  at  length  abrogated 
by  the  Long  Parliament. 

The  Society's  troubles  in  connection  with  the  wine 
duties  were  still  more  serious.  In  1621,  James  the  First, 
having  insultingly  dismissed  the  House  of  Commons, 
resolved  on  raising  money  by  the  exercise  of  his  so-called 
prerogative,  and  a  mandate  was  issued  to  the  Customs 
authorities  to  collect  a  double  duty  on  wine.  In  1622, 
his  Majesty,  after  cancelling  this  warrant,  issued  another, 
ordaining  the  levying  of  a  wine  impost  of  205.  per  tun 
in  London  and  of  135.  4^.  at  the  outports  over  and  above 


the  statutory  duty,  for  the  maintenance  of  the  King's 
daughter,  the  Princess  Palatine,  and  her  family.  In 
April,  1624,  when  the  King's  embarrassments  compelled 
him  to  summon  another  Parliament,  the  new  tax  was 
suspended  for  six  months,  in  the  hope  that  the  Commons 
would  grant  a  generous  supply.  But  as  their  liberality 
failed  to  reach  expectations,  his  Majesty,  in  October,  in 
defiance  of  the  remonstrance  of  the  Commons,  ordered 
the  imposition  to  be  rigorously  collected,  and  threatened 
those  who  dared  to  be  contemptuous  with  penalties  and 
"  corporal  punishment."  (Book  of  Trade.) 

The  accession  of  Charles  the  First  in  the  spring  of 
1625  brought  about  no  alteration  in  the  royal  policy. 
On  the  26th  April  the  King,  in  a  warrant  to  the  officers 
and  farmers  of  the  Bristol  Customs,  intimated  his  will 
and  pleasure  that  the  wine  duties  imposed  by  his  father 
should  be  collected  as  before,  and  directed  that  every  one 
refusing  to  pay  them  should  be  imprisoned  until  he 
submitted,  mayors  and  other  officers  being  commanded 
to  assist  in  carrying  the  mandate  into  effect.  The 
Society  thereupon  appealed  to  the  Lord  Treasurer  for 
relief,  asserting  that,  in  consequence  of  the  rise  in  prices 
caused  by  the  increased  tax,  they  were  unable  to  sell  their 
wines,  much  of  which  had  "grown  eager"  (sour)  and 
would  not  bring  its  cost,  freight  and  prisage.  No  answer 
seems  to  have  been  made  to  the  appeal.  On  the  other 
hand,  the  patentee,  or  farmer,  of  the  composition  in  lieu 
of  wine  purveyance  raised  a  suit  in  1630  against  the 
merchants  for  the  recovery  of  his  demands.  And  though 
the  Court  of  Exchequer  dismissed  his  claim  as  illegal, 
and  forbade  him  to  renew  his  molestations,  the  Kingr 
in  1634,  in  defiance  of  the  judgment,  peremptorily  set 
forth  his  "  ancient  right  of  purveyance,"  and  commanded 
the  household  officers  to  treat  with  the  merchants  for 


compositions  on  wines,  alleging  that  the  royal  expenditure 
was  "  likely  to  increase  by  God's  grace  by  reason  of  our 
children,"  then  mere  infants.  No  wine  was  to  be  allowed 
to  be  landed  until  the  composition  was  paid,  and  if 
any  merchant  proved  refractory  the  Customs  officials 
were  to  seize  16  tuns  out  of  every  100,  giving  [or  rather 
promising]  him  £6  los.  per  tun — a  fraction  of  the  value 
— "  according  to  our  ancient  right." 

This  arbitrary  decree  continued  in  force  until  1638, 
when  the  King,  who  had  ruled  despotically  for  nine  years, 
issued  a  mandate  imposing  a  further  duty  of  £2  per 
tun  on  all  wines,  and  forthwith  farmed  out  the  tax  to 
the  Vintners'  Company  of  London.  One  morning  in 
September,  1638,  a  deputation  of  the  farmers  arrived  in 
Bristol,  accompanied  by  one  of  the  King's  detested 
pursuivants,  and  armed  with  a  warrant  from  the  Privy 
Council;  and  summoned  the  alarmed  merchants  before 
them.  Having  demanded  and  obtained  a  sight  of  all 
the  liquor  stored  in  the  city,  the  vintners  required  the 
immediate  payment  of  the  tax,  not  only  on  the  existing 
stock,  but  on  all  that  had  been  sold  during  the  previous 
three  months.  Powerless  to  resist,  and  having,  as  they 
afterwards  recorded,  been  grievously  oppressed  by  suits 
and  pursuivants  for  fourteen  years,  at  a  cost  of  upwards 
of  £1,000,  the  Society  offered  to  pay  the  farmers  a  com- 
position of  no  less  than  £3,500  per  annum,  which  the 
vintners  accepted  upon  ten  members  of  the  Society 
becoming  guarantors.  The  collection  of  the  money  was 
soon  found  to  be  impracticable.  Half  the  vintners  in 
Bristol  became  bankrupt ;  others  refused  to  pay  their 
quota ;  and  the  total  amount  obtained  in  three  years  was 
only  £1,036.  In  1640  the  farmers  sued  the  guarantors  for 
£4,450,  being  a  year  and  a  half's  composition,  less  /8oo 
paid  on  account,  and  the  action  was  still  pending  in  1642. 


The  House  of  Commons,  then  dealing  trenchantly  with 
abuses,  had  been  already  implored  by  the  Society  to 
remedy  the  grievance.  The  first  deputy  sent  to  West- 
minster for  this  purpose  was  Mr.  George  Bowcher,  whose 
unhappy  fate  during  the  impending  struggle  was  then 
unforeseen.  Three  other  members,  Messrs.  W.  Fitz- 
herbert,  R.  Vickris,  and  G.  Lewis  (the  last  in  the  place  of 
Thomas  Colston,  who  refused  to  serve),  subsequently 
repaired  to  London  and  urgently  appealed  for  redress.  A 
committee  of  the  House  of  Commons  had  been  by  that 
time  appointed  to  consider  the  illegal  wine  tax,  and  the 
Society,  in  a  petition  to  that  body,  asserted  that  during 
the  first  year  of  the  Vintners'  Company's  impost  the  loss 
of  Bristol  merchants  on  French  wine  alone  amounted  to 
£4,000,  besides  a  heavy  loss  on  Spanish ;  and  that  the 
Privy  Council  were  nevertheless  keeping  a  local  merchant 
in  prison  for  non-payment  of  the  duties.  The  King's 
arbitrary  impost  was  soon  afterwards  annulled.  (Many 
letters  and  papers  on  this  subject  are  preserved  in  the 
Society's  "  Book  of  Trade.") 

At  the  Restoration,  the  Society  was  under  so  much 
apprehension  that  this  obnoxious  regal  privilege  would  be 
revived  that  an  active  member  of  the  Hall,  Mr.  (after- 
wards Sir  John)  Knight,  M.P.,  was  desired  to  make  the 
best  composition  he  could  if  resistance  were  impracticable. 
Charles  the  Second,  however,  surrendered  the  privilege, 
together  with  other  relics  of  feudalism,  on  receiving  com- 
pensation in  the  shape  of  an  excise  duty  on  beer,  cider, 
spirits,  tea,  and  coffee.  (12  Charles  II.,  c.  24.) 

Grievances  of  a  similar  character  to  those  just  dealt 
with  arose  from  the  extortionate  demands  made  from 
time  to  time  by  Custom  House  officials.  The  first  notice 
of  them  occurs  in  1624,  when  the  Society  appointed  a 
committee  to  complain  to  the  King's  Commissioners  of 


the  recent  exaction  of  excessive  fees.  The  abuse  had 
been  already  laid  before  the  House  of  Commons,  which 
had  recommended  that  such  disputes  should  be  amicably 
settled  (Commons'  Journals) ;  and  after  a  conference  and 
much  debate  an  arrangement  was  entered  into  by  a  formal 
deed,  the  fees  being  reduced  to  the  small  amounts  paid 
in  the  reign  of  Elizabeth.  No  further  difficulty  arose 
until  after  Charles  the  First  had  resolved  to  dispense 
with  Parliaments.  But  in  1632,  doubtless  at  the  instance 
of  the  local  officers — the  chief  of  whom,  John  Dowell, 
seems  to  have  been  notorious  for  his  annoyances,  and  will 
be  heard  of  again — Lord  Treasurer  Weston  granted  them 
a  warrant  empowering  the  collection  of  fees  on  the  scale 
payable  in  London.  And  on  being  informed  that  many 
merchants  refused  to  pay  the  enhanced  charges,  he  for- 
warded a  second  mandate  to  enforce  their  obedience. 
Following  their  usual  course,  the  Society  sent  repeated 
deputations  to  London  to  remonstrate  against  the 
exactions,  but  without  effect,  for  several  recalcitrant 
merchants  were  harassed  with  prosecutions.  In  1634, 
the  Lord  Treasurer  (then  become  Earl  of  Portland  and 
Lord  High  Steward  of  Bristol)  despatched  a  testy  letter 
to  the  Society,  desiring  them  to  end  their  differences 
with  the  Searcher — the  chief  officer  concerned — whose 
increased  fees  they  ought  to  pay,  and  requesting  in 
menacing  terms  that  he  be  "no  further  troubled."  The 
Society  replied  that  the  Searcher  would  listen  to  no 
reasonable  proposals,  and  they  were  doubtless  encouraged 
in  their  resistance  by  the  knowledge  that  the  Attorney 
General  had  informed  the  Lord  Treasurer  that  as 
Bristolians  generally  made  shorter  voyages  than  Lon- 
doners, the  high  scale  of  fees  had  to  be  paid  by  them 
more  frequently.  A  few  weeks  later  Lord  Portland  found 
it  advisable  to  change  his  policy,  revoked  his  previous 


warrants,  ordered  the  excessive  fees  already  paid  to  be 
disgorged,  and  commanded  the  Searcher  to  be  content 
with  the  ancient  scale ;  the  Society  thus  scoring  a 
complete  victory. 

Other  Crown  exactions  nevertheless  continued,  and 
the  situation  having  become  less  than  ever  tolerable, 
Alderman  Barker,  a  prominent  member  of  the  Society 
and  representative  for  Bristol  in  the  Parliament  of  1628, 
addressed  an  earnest  protest  to  Secretary  Nicholas,  with 
whom,  when  in  the  House  of  Commons,  he  had  been  on 
friendly  terms.  A  copy  of  this  interesting  letter,  which 
shows  how  imperfect  is  our  information  on  the  subject, 
has  not  been  preserved  in  the  Hall.  The  following 
summary  is  extracted  from  the  State  Papers  : — 

August  1st,  1634. — The  molestation  which  the  Bristol  merchants 
have  sustained  within  these  last  five  years  has  been  so  great  by 
ungrounded  informations  and  bills  in  the  Star  Chamber  at  the  suit  of 
the  Attorney  General,  unwonted  and  vexatious  commissions,  false 
informations  of  the  Customs  officers,  and  insolence  of  his  Majesty's 
messengers  and  common  informers,  as  they  cannot  longer  forbear  to 
complain  and  to  crave  redress — all  being  done  under  pretence  of  his 
Majesty's  service,  whereas  the  consequences  are  altogether  contrary. 
As  Nicholas  knows  the  welfare  of  the  country  to  consist  in  the  free 
course  of  commerce,  the  writer  points  out  the  grievances  demanding 
relief.  I.  The  King  having  granted  licenses  for  the  transport  of  some 
commodities  prohibited  by  law,  and  the  officers  having  received 
money  for  customs  and  license,  they  have  afterwards  conspired  with 
informers  to  molest  the  merchants  for  the  same.  II.  The  officers, 
conspiring  with  the  King's  messengers,  have  informed  the  Attorney 
General,  who  has  therefore  sent  for  many  to  appear,  and  though 
nothing  could  be  proved,  they  were  compelled  to  give  large  fees  to 
the  messengers  before  their  discharge.  III.  Twenty  merchants  have 
been  summoned  to  the  Star  Chamber  by  the  Attorney  General,  and 
though  no  bill  has  been  put  in  against  some  of  them,  they  had  to  pay 
largely  for  their  discharge,  not  knowing  their  offence.  IV.  Commis- 
sions have  been  issued  to  examine  sailors  touching  the  payment  of 
imposts,  and  they  have  been  tempted  to  make  accusations  against 
their  employers,  and  threatened  for  not  doing  so.  V.  A  commission 
is  now  on  foot  concerning  alleged  short  entries,  though  the  merchants 


have  paid  all  duties  justly.  Such  vexations  have  cost  the  merchants 
over  ^"1,000  in  the  last  five  years,  besides  their  reputations  being 
wounded.  Understanding  from  Mr.  Colston  that  the  Secretary 
disapproves  of  these  courses,  the  writer  craves  his  advice  and  offers 
further  information. 

Secretary  Nicholas's  reply  to  the  above  is  also  in  the 
Record  Office.  He  expressed  regret  at  the  information 
conveyed  to  him,  and  asserted  that  the  Lord  Treasurer 
would  redress  abuses  if  so  good  a  man  as  Barker  repre- 
sented them  in  a  respectful  way. 

The  obnoxious  Searcher — who  was  really  the  deputy 
of  a  sinecurist  serjeant-at-law  who  received  the  bulk  of 
the  fees  but  did  no  work — seems  to  have  subsided  for  five 
years.  At  the  close  of  1639,  he  again  raised  complaints 
against  the  merchants,  and  asked  the  Lord  Treasurer's 
permission  to  revive  the  higher  scale  of  fees ;  and  he  per- 
tinaciously continued  his  appeals  until  the  reassembling 
of  Parliaments  brought  this  and  other  scandals  to  an  end. 

Scarcely  had  Charles  the  Second  been  restored  than 
the  Searcher — still  the  sinecurist  lawyer — recommenced 
his  extortions,  and  raised  actions  against  those  who  with- 
stood them.  On  the  i6th  October,  1660,  the  Society 
resolved  that  no  fees  should  be  paid  in  excess  of  the  old 
rates,  and  that  a  suit  should  be  commenced  against  the 
Searcher  for  exacting  the  illegal  scale.  This  was  probably 
unsuccessful,  for  after  a  struggle  of  nearly  eleven  years, 
Sir  John  Knight,  M.P.,  was  appointed  to  treat  for  a 
compromise,  and  the  Hall,  on  the  3Oth  March,  1671, 
confirmed  the  agreement  that  he  had  effected.  Astounding 
as  it  now  appears,  this  treaty  was  also  repudiated  in  1687, 
when  James  the  Second  evinced  an  intention  of  follow- 
ing in  his  father's  footsteps ;  and  the  Society  once  more 
determined  on  resisting  the  Searcher's  demands.  The 
Revolution  doubtless  brought  the  long  conflict  to  a  close. 


Attention  must  now  be  directed  to  another  long  con- 
troversy between  the  two  first  Stewart  kings  and  the 
Society.  Piracy  during  the  seventeenth  century  was  the 
constant  scourge  of  commerce,  yet  the  Crown  rarely 
considered  that  its  suppression  was  a  duty  incumbent 
upon  the  State.  The  Bristol  Channel  often  swarmed 
with  piratical  vessels,  especially  in  the  month  of  July, 
when  they  gathered  to  plunder  the  numerous  ships  from 
many  foreign  and  domestic  ports  laden  with  goods  for 
the  great  Bristol  fair.  In  1613,  having  obtained  King 
James's  gracious  leave  to  protect  themselves,  the  Society 
hired  and  equipped  two  "  ships  of  war  "  to  repress  the 
brigandage ;  and  in  the  following  year  four  such  vessels 
were  engaged  in  the  same  service,  the  cost  of  these 
expeditions  to  the  Society  amounting  to  the  then  large 
sum  of  £492;  exclusive  of  £21  disbursed  for  a  "present 
and  entertainment "  to  Sir  Thomas  Button,  who  had  lent 
assistance  in  H.M.S.  Phoenix.  In  1617,  when  it  was 
reported  that  upwards  of  300  English  merchantmen  had 
been  captured  within  a  few  years  by  Algerian  and  Tunisian 
corsairs,  and  their  crews  led  into  slavery,  the  merchants  of 
London  petitioned  the  Crown  to  take  vigorous  measures  for 
suppressing  the  evil,  and  offered  to  give  ^40,000  towards 
the  equipment  of  an  expedition.  After  considerable  delay, 
the  Government  consented  to  take  action,  but  in  order  to 
diminish  its  own  expenses,  it  was  resolved  to  make  the 
outports  contribute  £8,550  towards  the  outlay  by  reviving 
the  ancient  imposition  of  Ship-money.  The  assessment 
on  Bristol  was  .£2,500;  Exeter,  Plymouth,  and  Dartmouth 
were  each  required  to  raise  £1,000 ;  Barnstaple  and  Hull, 
£500  each ;  Weymouth,  £450 ;  and  Newcastle  and 
Southampton  each  £300.  The  minor  ports,  amongst 
which  Liverpool  does  not  appear,  were  assessed  at 
£i,  ooo. 


Ship-money  had  always  been  an  unpopular  tax,  it  having 
been  constantly  demanded  as  a  royal  prerogative  needing 
no  sanction  from  Parliament ;  and  King  James's  chronic 
quarrels  with  the  House  of  Commons  on  financial  questions 
were  not  calculated  to  lessen  discontent.  The  Society's 
response  to  the  Privy  Council's  demand  was  to  the  effect 
that,  in  despite  of  the  large  outlay  recently  incurred  for 
suppressing  piracy,  and  of  their  late  heavy  loss  of  five 
ships  with  their  cargoes,  through  wreck  and  brigandage, 
they  were  willing  to  contribute  ^600.  As  a  matter  of  fact, 
the  Corporation  subscribed  two-thirds  of  that  sum  and 
lent  the  Society  the  remainder  (Civic  Audit  Book).  But 
the  Mayor  (John  Guy),  foreseeing  that  this  offer  would 
prove  unpalatable,  informed  the  Privy  Council  that,  by 
his  earnest  persuasion  of  the  rest  of  the  citizens,  he  had 
been  able  to  enlarge  the  contribution  to  ^1,000.  Soon 
afterwards  the  Corporation  lent  a  further  sum  of  ^200 
to  the  Society.  In  order,  it  may  be  presumed,  to  pay  off 
this  debt  the  members  of  the  Society  entered  into  a 
personal  subscription,  and  the  results,  which  are  of 
some  historical  interest,  are  fortunately  jotted  down 
in  the  Hall's  "  Book  of  Trade."  The  names  are  as 
follows : — 

Donors  of  £10  each. — John  Barker,  John  Whitson,  William  Pitt, 
John  Doughtie,  John  Conning,  Christopher  Whitson,  John  Langtonr 
Humphry  Hooke,  John  Tomlinson,  Andrew  Charlton,  Richard  Hoi- 
worthy,  William  Jones,  Humphry  Browne,  Richard  Long,  Abel 
Kitchin,  Robert  Aldworth,  Thomas  Wright,  and  Edward  Coxe. 

Donors  of  £6  each. — Edward  Williams,  Peter  Miller,  William 
Pratt,  Arthur  Hibbins,  William  Hicks,  Thomas  Colston,  Giles 
Elbridge,  Walter  Ellis,  N.  Butcher,  G.  Butcher,  Francis  Creswick, 
Derrick  Popley,  Francis  Derrick,  John  Locke,  John  Gardner,  Philip 
Ellis,  Miles  Jackson,  Thomas  Clement,  William  Pitt,  Richard  Plea  (?), 
Alexander  James,  and  Nicholas  Meredith. 

The  Mayor  (John  Guy)  and  Matthew  Haviland  gave  £5  each. 


The  Privy  Council,  in  a  letter  to  the  Mayor,  promptly 
expressed  their  surprise  that  the  merchants  and  ship- 
owners of  Bristol  showed  so  little  zeal  in  furthering  the 
expedition,  especially  as  other  and  far  inferior  ports,  less 
subject  to  loss,  had  shown  much  greater  willingness ; 
adding  that  no  part  of  the  assessment  could  be  remitted, 
and  requesting  that  the  merchants  might  be  dealt  with 
"  effectually."  The  Society  thereupon  drew  up  a  curious 
document  entitled  "  A  Collection  of  Reasons  to  show  that 
^1,000  from  Bristol  is  in  good  proportion  to  the  ^40,000 
of  London."  The  following  is  an  abstract  of  the  chief 
points  advanced : — 

That  the  Londoners  deal  on  a  larger  scale,  and  have  a  more 
gainful  trade. 

That  the  security  of  trade  is  of  more  importance  to  London  than 
to  Bristol — much  of  Bristol  trade  being  carried  on  by  merchants  of 
Ireland,  Barnstaple,  and  Western  ports. 

That  the  Bristol  shipowners  are  very  few  and  poor,  the  navigation 
being  employed  by  Scotch  and  Flemish  ships. 

That  the  wine  trade — one  of  the  greatest  in  the  city — is  much  im- 
poverished, because  former  customers  for  wine  now  repair  to  the  Welsh 
ports,  which  are  free  from  imposts  and  so  sell  cheaper,  and  Bristol 
merchants  will  thus  lose  this  year  above  ,£"1,000  by  Gascony  wines. 

That  Bristol  has  always  been  ready  to  do  the  King  service  in 
Ireland  ;  arid  seeing  they  are  to  serve  therein  when  the  rest  are  free, 
they  crave  to  have  the  more  favour. 

"That  this  city  is  poor,  and  so  insensible  of  any  proportion  with 
London  that  two  or  three  merchants  of  London  are  able  to  buy  all 
the  inhabitants  of  Bristol  out  of  all  their  means  in  the  world,  saving 
their  persons.  There  are  about  700  widows  here." 

That  money  lent  by  the  city  upon  Privy  Seals  may  be  considered  ; 
also  the  charges  the  city  has  been  at  to  suppress  piracy  in  the  Bristol 

That  the  loss  which  the  merchants  of  Bristol  sustained  in  enter- 
taining the  King  at  Woodstock,  in  1605,  and  the  Queen  at  Bath, 
in  1613,  amounted  to  [blank]. 

The  paper  concludes  with  a  table  professing  to  show  the  "  Col- 
lection of  Customs  of  Subsidie"  for  the  three  years  ending  1615. 
The  "  medium  "  is — Exeter,  ^3,836  ;  Bristol,  ^"3,449  ;  Weymouth, 
£"1,978  ;  Lyme,  ^"2,905  ;  London,  ^"125,000. 


The  pleas  alleging  the  poverty  of  the  city  and  of  its 
merchants  were  unquestionably  insincere,  and  stand  in 
amusing  contrast  with  the  claims  to  wealth  and  grandeur 
which  the  Corporation  produced  when  occasion  required 
on  behalf  of  the  "  second  city  of  the  kingdom."  The 
truth  was  that  the  writers  did  not  dare  to  proclaim  the 
real  causes  of  their  stinted  offering.  The  task  of 
suppressing  the  Turkish  bandits  was  a  national  one,  and 
if  the  Royal  Navy  was  incapable  of  fulfilling  it,  the  blame 
rested  upon  a  Government  which,  with  double  the  income 
enjoyed  by  Queen  Elizabeth,  profligately  squandered  its 
resources,  and  had  habitually  spurned  the  advice  of 
Parliament.  Who  could  feel  assured,  moreover,  that  the 
money  thus  arbitrarily  demanded  would  not  be  diverted 
to  some  less  worthy  purpose  ? 

The  first  demand  for  the  city's  aid  was  made  in  April, 
1617,  but  the  Government  had  taken  no  step  towards 
carrying  out  its  project  in  November,  1619,  when  the 
Privy  Council  informed  the  Mayor  and  Aldermen  that 
the  expedition,  which,  "  for  reasons  best  known  to  the 
King,"  had  previously  been  deferred,  would  be  sent  out 
in  the  following  spring,  and  requested  the  immediate 
collection  of  the  Bristol  contribution.  A  still  more 
peremptory  order  being  received  soon  afterwards,  the 
Mayor  and  other  civic  dignitaries  departed  with  £1,000 
in  hand,  and  were  accompanied  by  the  Master  (J.  Gonning) 
and  Alderman  Guy  on  behalf  of  the  Society ;  but  their 
appeals  for  an  abatement  on  the  ground  of  the  King's 
wine  debts  and  of  the  large  sums  spent  in  suppressing 
local  piracy  were  scornfully  rejected,  and  the  balance  of 
the  impost  was  required  to  be  at  once  forthcoming.  A 
further  delay  having  occurred,  which  the  Mayor  declared 
to  be  due  to  the  impoverished  condition  of  the  merchants, 
who  had  lately  lost  £8,000  by  wrecks  and  pirates,  Mr. 


Whitson  and  the  Master  were  again  summoned  to 
London  during  the  summer,  and  angrily  rebuked  for 
their  remissness  by  the  Privy  Council.  As  the  expenses 
of  the  Society's  delegates  during  their  two  journeys 
amounted  to  ^77,  it  may  be  surmised  that  large  gratuities 
were  vainly  made  to  Court  underlings.  And  equally 
unavailing  was  their  production  of  a  list  of  losses  during 
the  previous  ten  years,  by  which  it  was  shown  that  two 
of  their  largest  ships  (150  tons  each)  had  foundered  at 
sea,  29  others  had  been  "taken  by  the  Turks,"  and  14 
small  vessels  had  been  wrecked.  (Book  of  Trade.)  The 
obdurate  Privy  Council  having  learnt  from  Alderman 
Whitson  that  many  Bristolians  of  good  means,  but  not 
engaged  in  foreign  commerce,  had  refused  to  contribute, 
commanded  the  Mayor  to  deal  with  them  sharply,  and 
to  send  them  up  to  Court  if  they  offered  resistance.  The 
Government  eventually  succeeded  in  extorting  the  full 
amount,  about  £1,000  being  raised  on  loans,  which  were 
gradually  cleared  off  by  levying  increased  dues  on 
shipping  and  merchandise.  The  expedition,  which  at 
length  sailed  in  October,  1620,  ended,  like  most  of  the 
King's  enterprises,  in  disgraceful  failure,  being  inade- 
quately equipped  both  in  provisions  and  ammunition. 

Although  the  treatment  of  the  city  by  the  Govern- 
ment throughout  the  preceding  transactions  was  little 
calculated  to  inspire  the  community  with  a  desire  for  a 
closer  connection  with  the  Court,  the  King  made  a 
singular  proposal  in  the  summer  of  1621  in  the  hope 
of  improving  his  revenue.  In  a  letter  to  the  Mayor, 
Lord  Treasurer  Mandeville  announced  his  Majesty's 
desire  to  "prefer"  the  farming  of  the  Customs  to  the 
inhabitants  of  each  of  the  outports,  and  requested  the 
views  of  the  city  thereon,  with  information  as  to  the 
amount  that  would  be  given  in  excess  of  the  previous 


average  receipts  (which  during  the  seven  years  ending 
1620  had  been  ^3,706).  The  Mayor  having  forwarded 
this  missive  to  the  Hall,  the  Society  promptly  directed 
his  worship  to  reply  that  through  the  restraints  imposed 
on  local  trade  and  the  losses  by  pirates,  the  mercantile 
body  was  much  decayed  ;  that  as  the  chiefest  dealers 
had  retired  into  the  country,  and  most  of  the  rest  were 
young  men  and  small  adventurers,  the  Customs  were 
likely  rather  to  decrease  than  augment ;  and  that  the 
Society  dreaded  "  to  bear  the  weight  of  so  doubtful  a 
matter."  (Book  of  Trade.) 

Voluminous  papers  having  been  preserved  in  the 
Hall  relating  to  the  Turkish  expedition,  it  is  somewhat 
remarkable  that  not  a  scrap  of  information  can  be  found 
respecting  the  lengthy  oppression  endured  by  the  Society 
after  Charles  the  First  had  freed  himself  from  constitu- 
tional restraints.  From  1628  to  the  eve  of  the  Long 
Parliament  twelve  years  later,  the  records  of  the  Society 
are  absolutely  blank,  though  for  nearly  the  whole  period — 
Mr.  Barker's  letter  to  the  Secretary  of  State  has  already 
spoken  emphatically  as  to  the  first  six  years  of  it — local 
merchants  were  the  victims  of  continual  extortions  on  the 
part  of  the  Government.  The  most  probable  explanation 
of  this  dearth  seems  to  be  that  in  their  dread  of  such 
outrages  as  that  recorded  in  the  corporate  books  (see  page 
in)  the  Society  did  not  venture  to  keep  any  minutes  of 
their  proceedings.  The  deficiency  is  not  supplied  by 
Bristol  historians,  who  have  treated  the  period  in  a  most 
perfunctory  fashion.  The  State  Papers,  however,  contain 
many  interesting  documents,  some  of  which  may  be 
briefly  summarised. 

In  June,  1626,  shortly  after  Parliament  had  been 
dissolved  in  consequence  of  the  House  of  Commons 
having  refused  the  Government's  demand  for  four 


subsidies,  the  Privy  Council  addressed  letters  to  the 
ports  and  maritime  counties,  requesting  that  an  amount 
equivalent  to  the  subsidies  should  be  furnished  as  a  token 
of  attachment  to  the  Crown.  The  sum  demanded  from 
Bristol  was  ^2,400,  for  the  hire  and  equipment  of  three 
i2-gun  ships;  but  the  city  petitioned  so  earnestly  for  an 
abatement  that  the  Privy  Council,  admitting  the  decay 
of  local  trade  and  the  recent  great  losses  of  the  merchants, 
fixed  the  contribution  at  ^1,000,  or  two  ships,  but  ordered 
that  the  reduced  amount  should  be  instantly  collected  by 
a  levy  upon  the  members  of  the  Corporation.  The  two 
adjoining  counties  having  been  required  to  supply  the 
third  vessel,  or  pay  ^800  in  equal  moieties,  an  amusing 
effort  was  made  both  by  town  and  country  interests  to 
shift  the  burden  of  the  impost,  Bristolians  representing 
that  they  were  unfairly  weighted  in  proportion  to  their 
rural  neighbours,  whilst  the  county  justices  protested  that 
their  share  of  taxation  was  unreasonably  large,  and  that 
Bristol,  "  a  rich  and  wealthy  city,"  might  fairly  pay  a 
larger  amount.  (Privy  Council  Minutes.)  No  relief  was 
obtained  by  either  party.  The  sum  assessed  on  the  city 
was  expended  in  hiring  and  equipping  the  two  ships, 
which  lay  idle  in  the  harbour  until  the  three  months' 
stock  of  provisions  was  consumed,  when  the  Corporation 
declined  to  revictual  them,  informing  the  Duke  of 
Buckingham  that  the  outlay  already  incurred  was  equal 
to  four  subsidies,  and  that  the  counties  still  withheld  their 
contributions.  The  ships  eventually  sailed  for  the  Irish 
coast.  Rendered  more  rapacious  by  success,  the  Govern- 
ment, in  the  following  December,  demanded  that  the  city 
should  hire  and  equip  a  third  ship  ;  but  the  Corporation 
refused  to  make  a  further  effort,  and  though  the  mandate 
was  twice  repeated  in  1627,  it  remained  ineffectual. 

In  January,  1631,  the  King  issued  a  proclamation  by 



which  Bristol  merchants  were  prohibited  from  pursuing  a 
branch  of  commerce  which  was  even  then  one  of  great 
local  importance.  The  mandate  of  his  Majesty,  who 
had  inherited  his  father's  abhorrence  of  tobacco,  forbade 
the  importation  of  the  plant  into  any  port  except  London, 
and  interdicted  its  cultivation  throughout  the  country. 
Like  many  other  decrees  of  a  similar  character,  the 
restriction  of  the  foreign  trade  to  the  capital  was  devised 
to  extort  money  from  Bristol  merchants  for  licenses  to 
import  into  this  city,  and  there  is  evidence  in  the  State 
Papers  that  several  such  licenses  were  applied  for,  though 
their  cost  is  not  stated.  The  edict  naturally  led  to  an 
extensive  system  of  smuggling  on  the  coasts  of  the  Bristol 
and  English  Channels,  and  in  1639  the  Crown  found  it 
advisable  to  permit  importations  into  Bristol  and  three 
other  harbours. 

Another  shift  for  wringing  money  from  the  public  was 
devised  in  the  summer  of  1631,  and  the  case  of  Bristol 
indicates  what  went  on  throughout  the  kingdom.  On 
June  2Qth  a  royal  commission  was  addressed  to  the 
Bishop  of  Bristol,  the  Mayor  (John  Tomlinson),  and 
others,  directing  them  to  summon  such  inhabitants  as,  by 
their  wealth,  could  be  forced  under  the  royal  prerogative 
to  take  up  the  title  of  knights,  and  to  fix  the  fines  that 
should  be  paid  by  those  refusing  the  "  honour."  The 
intention  of  the  Government  had  become  known  to  the 
Corporation  some  weeks  earlier,  and  Mr.  Tomlinson 
(Master,  1628)  and  other  wealthy  aldermen  had  hastened 
to  offer  their  services  privately,  for  the  purpose  of  getting 
themselves  appointed  as  commissioners.  In  addition  to 
these  voluntary  victims  no  less  than  forty-four  persons  in 
the  city  were  declared  qualified  for  knighthood  by  the 
amount  of  their  incomes,  and  as  all  of  them  shunned  the 
proffered  dignity,  they  were  assessed  according  to  their 


assumed  means.  The  following  gentlemen,  each  of  whom 
had  been  or  became  Masters,  Wardens,  or  Treasurers 
of  the  Society,  were  amongst  the  sufferers  : — Alexander 
James  headed  the  list,  being  fined  £41  65.  8d.;  Richard 
Holworthy  paid  ^23  6s.  3d. ;  Abel  Kitchin  and  Henry 
Gibbes,  £8  135.  4^.  each;  William  Jones,  £14',  Walter 
Ellis  and  Francis  Creswick,  ^"13  6s.  Sd.  each;  Edward 
Peters,  £12  ;  John  Locke  and  William  Wyatt,  £11  each. 
William  Colston  (father  of  Edward),  having  just  begun 
business,  was  let  off  for  £6  135.  /\d.  The  total  sum  netted 
by  the  process  was  ^626,  the  Mayor  and  his  rich  alder- 
manic  brethren  coolly  assessing  themselves  at  the  modest 
lump  sum  of  £78.  The  royal  mandate  required  the  whole 
of  the  fines  to  be  brought  in  within  ten  days  of  the 

The  year  1631  did  not  close  before  another  blow  had 
been  dealt  to  local  trade.  Bristol  had  enjoyed  a  great 
repute  for  its  soap  for  four  hundred  years,  and  that  article 
had  become  an  important  branch  of  commerce.  In 
December,  1631,  however,  a  patent  was  granted  by  the 
Crown  to  a  number  of  courtiers  and  Londoners,  con- 
ferring on  them  the  sole  right  to  manufacture  soap  from 
home  materials,  and  a  royal  charter  empowered  them  to 
destroy  the  vats  and  demolish  the  buildings  of  persons 
invading  their  privilege.  Threatened  with  ruin,  the 
Bristol  firms,  on  payment  of  a  large  sum,  obtained  a 
license  from  the  monopolists  to  manufacture  the  insig- 
nificant quantity  of  600  tons  yearly.  But  in  May,  1635, 
the  Privy  Council  issued  an  order  forbidding  Bristolians 
from  exporting  soap  to  any  place  save  Wales  and  the 
western  counties,  and  imposing  an  additional  duty  of 
£4  per  ton  on  the  quantity  made,  thus  practically 
paralysing  both  manufacturers  and  merchants.  In  May, 
1637,  twelve  Bristol  soapmakers  were  lying  in  a  London 


prison  for  non-payment  of  the  extra  tax  levied  by  the 
Crown.  In  the  following  year  the  King  decreed  that 
all  the  Bristol  soaperies  save  four  should  be  shut  up. 
These  brief  citations  from  the  State  Papers  give  but 
an  inadequate  conception  of  the  disastrous  effects  of 
the  royal  policy  on  Bristol  interests.  Adams,  the  ablest 
local  annalist  of  the  age,  and  a  witness  of  the  persecution, 
whose  zealous  loyalty  renders  his  evidence  unimpeachable, 
records  that  about  thirty  Bristol  soapmakers  "were 
served  up  to  London,  where  against  their  wills  they 
were  retained  long,  with  great  expenses,  imprisoned, 
and  were  fined  in  about  ^20,000,  and  were  bound  to 
more  inconveniences  before  they  could  be  discharged." 
(Seyer,  ii.  293.) 

In  July,  1634,  the  merchants  and  shipowners  of  the 
city  made  a  vigorous  remonstrance  to  Lord  Holland, 
Lord  Chief  Justice  in  Eyre  over  the  royal  forests  south 
of  Trent,  against  the  wholesale  destruction  of  timber 
in  the  Forest  of  Dean  by  the  lessees  of  the  patentee 
to  whom  the  King  had  granted  excessive  privileges. 
The  Bristolians  asserted  that  one  half  of  the  goodly 
Forest  had  been  destroyed  within  about  twenty  years, 
causing  the  price  of  timber  to  advance  upwards  of 
50  per  cent.,  and  rendering  shipbuilding  at  Bristol 
impracticable.  Before  wood  became  scarce,  ships  of 
from  100  to  200  tons  were  yearly  launched  in  the  Avon, 
whereas,  during  the  previous  nine  years,  only  one  ship 
of  100  tons  had  been  built,  and  shipwrights  were  un- 
employed. Merchants  were  thus  constrained  to  buy 
Dutch-built  ships,  but  as  such  vessels  were  liable  to 
confiscation  if  they  entered  Spanish  ports,  and  as 
Bristol  commerce  was  chiefly  with  Spain,  local  merchants 
were  unable  to  trade.  These  complaints  were  urged 
on  behalf  of  the  Society  by  Alderman  Barker  and  others, 


at  a  Court  held  by  Lord  Holland,  at  Gloucester,  when 
some   remarkable   evidence   was   given.      It   was   shown 
that   the    Earl    of    Pembroke,    after    procuring    a   grant 
from     the     King     to     take     yearly     10,000     cords     of 
"  complement "    wood,    and    such    trees    as    fell    during 
storms  in  the  Forest,  for  the  maintenance  of  local  iron 
works,  had  sublet  part  of  the  grant  to  Sir  Basil  Brooker 
and    another    man,    who    had    wilfully    destroyed    vast 
quantities  of  the  best  timber.     After  a  slight   effort  to 
defend  their  conduct,  the  sub-lessees  submitted   to  the 
Court's  mercy,  and  the  jury  amerced  them  in  a  penalty 
of    £57,000 — only   one-twelfth    of    the   fine   imposed    by 
the   laws   of  the   Forest.     Sir   John  Winter,   another  of 
Lord   Pembroke's  lessees,  had  carried  off  67,000   cords 
of    timber   within    six   years,    though    his    lease    limited 
him  to   15,000  cords.     Having   pleaded   guilty,   he   was 
fined    £20,230.      A    third    culprit,   named    Gibbons,   was 
convicted  of  having  cut  down  4,000  oak-trees  and  2,000 
beeches,  besides  committing  other  great  destructions,  and 
was    fined   £9,000.      The   above    depositions   have    been 
found  in  the  British  Museum.     As  the  Earl  of  Pembroke 
was    a    favourite    of    Charles    the    First,    he    probably 
succeeded  in  procuring  the  pardon  of  his  lessees. 

The  next  Government  requisition  is  historically  famous. 
On  November  6th,  1634,  the  King  addressed  a  mandate 
to  the  corporations  of  Bristol,  Gloucester,  Bridgwater, 
and  Minehead,  and  to  the  sheriffs  of  Gloucestershire  and 
Somerset,  requiring  them  to  set  forth  a  ship  of  800  tons, 
with  260  men,  equipped  for  half  a  year's  service.  The 
demand  was  afterwards  commuted  into  a  money  payment 
of  £6,500,  of  which  £2,166  135.  ^d.  were  imposed  upon 
Bristol.  Although  it  was  generally  believed  that  the 
object  of  the  Court  was  to  render  the  King  permanently 
independent  of  Parliamentary  control,  the  money  was  by 


some  means  contributed  before  March  I4th,  1635.     (The 
sum   levied   on    Liverpool  was   £15.)      Rejoicing  in  the 
success  of  the  scheme,  the  Privy  Council  issued  another 
Ship-money  warrant  in  August,   1635,  the  impost  being 
then  converted  into  a  general  tax  payable  over  the  whole 
kingdom,    instead    of,    as    previously,    on    the    maritime 
counties  exclusively.    The  amount  demanded  from  Bristol 
was  .£2,000,  but  after  many  prayers  for  an  abatement,  and 
the  payment  of  large  bribes  to  officials,  the  Privy  Council 
reduced  the  charge  to  £1,200,  which,  as  the  Corporation 
represented,  was,  with  the  previous  charge,  equal  to  the 
unparalleled  burden  of  eighteen  Parliamentary  subsidies. 
The  money  having   been   wrung  from  the  citizens,   the 
Government  sent  down  a  third  writ  in  October,   1636, 
demanding  a  ship  of  100  tons  or  a  money  payment  of 
.£1,000,  afterwards  commuted  to  £Boo,  which  were  paid 
within   a  twelvemonth.     The  fourth  writ,   for  a  ship  of 
80  tons,  or  ^800,  was  received  in  1637,  but  the  inhabi- 
tants, as  will  presently  be  shown,  were  groaning  under 
other    oppressions,    and   were    nearly   exhausted.      The 
collection  being  delayed,  the  Privy  Council  sent  an  angry 
letter   to   the    Mayor   in    May,    1638,    rebuking   him    for 
negligence,  charging  him  with  disloyalty,  and  summoning 
him  to  Whitehall  to  answer  for  his  contempt  of  the  King's 
will.    In  great  alarm,  the  Corporation  sent  up  a  deputation 
to  appease  their  lordships,  and  as  ^400  were  at  once  paid 
in,  and  the  remainder  was  being  collected,   the   Mayor 
was  discharged.     The   Government  found  it  prudent  to 
mitigate  their  next   demand,   in    November,    1638,    only 
^250  being  asked  for,  of  which  £200  were  paid  in  the 
following  June.     The  sixth   and  last    of  these  arbitrary 
exactions  was  called  for  in  November,  1639,  when  /8oo 
were  required,  but  the  charge  was  subsequently  reduced 
to  ^640  provided  prompt  payment  were  made,  the  full 


amount  being  required  in  the  event  of  delay.  In  July, 
1640,  the  Corporation  informed  the  Privy  Council  that 
they  had  remitted  all  they  could  collect  (amount  not 
stated)  ;  that  more  could  be  extracted  only  by  distraints  ; 
that  they  had  already  made  some  distresses,  but  nobody 
would  buy  the  goods  ;  and  that  ^700  had  just  been  levied 
on  the  citizens  for  the  maintenance  and  clothing  of 
soldiers.  Strange  to  say,  the  whole  story  of  these  imposts 
is  ignored  by  local  historians  ;  the  civic  Audit-books  for 
the  three  years  ending  Michaelmas,  1639,  have  disap- 
peared ;  and  though  the  mercantile  body  must  have 
been  amongst  the  chief  victims,  the  records  of  the 
Society  contain  no  allusion  to  the  subject.  Practically 
the  whole  of  the  above  details  have  been  obtained  from 
the  Minutes  of  the  Privy  Council  and  documents  in  the 
Record  Office.  So  far  as  can  be  made  out,  the  Cor- 
poration contributed  about  one-sixth  of  each  imposition. 
It  will  have  been  observed  that  the  King's  claims  for 
Ship-money  were  concurrent  with  his  Majesty's  exactions 
on  the  Bristol  merchants  in  the  shape  of  exorbitant  wine 
duties,  with  the  stoppage  of  the  Bristol  tobacco  trade, 
and  with  the  crushing  persecution  of  the  soapmakers. 
As  if  these  oppressions  were  not  enough,  another  device 
was  resorted  to  by  the  Court  for  the  purpose  of  raising 
money.  On  November  3oth,  1637,  a  commission,  of 
which  a  Court  parasite,  Lord  Mohun,  and  "  two  men  of 
mean  quality" — as  they  were  termed  by  the  Town  Clerk- 
proved  to  be  the  acting  members,  was  appointed  under 
a  royal  warrant.  This  document  stated  that  the  King  had 
been  credibly  informed  that  the  magistrates,  merchants, 
and  others  of  Bristol  had  unlawfully  levied  very  great 
sums  of  money  on  merchandise  imported  and  exported, 
and  ordered  the  commissioners  to  discover  the  offenders, 
and  to  ascertain  what  sums  so  obtained  were  due  to  the 


King  in  order  that  they  might  be  recovered.     On  what 
grounds  any  part  of   unlawfully  levied  money  could  be 
rightfully  claimed  by  the  Crown  the  commission  omitted 
to   explain.       The    case,    indeed,    was    so   bad   that   the 
commissioners    carefully   concealed    the    object    of    the 
inquiry.     At  the  first  sitting  of  the  inquisitors,  the  Town 
Clerk  requested  that  the  powers  of  the  commission  should 
be  disclosed,  but  his  application  was  insolently  refused. 
The  city  swarmed  with  pursuivants  and  other  mercenaries, 
who  broke  into  houses  in  search  of  papers  and  browbeat 
merchants,  traders,  shopmen,  clerks,  and  porters,  dragging 
many  of  them  before  the  commissioners.     The  latter  in 
their  turn  drew  up  affidavits  incriminating  local  authorities, 
tendered  the  documents  to  the  persons  brought  up,  and 
when  the  men  refused  to  swear  to  what  they  declared  to  be 
untruths,  committed  them  to  prison.    During  the  hearings, 
which  lasted  for  several  weeks,  the  "  mean  men  "  insulted 
the  merchants,  denounced  Mr.  Long,  the  Master  of  the 
Society,   as   an   abettor   of   frauds,   and   committed    Mr. 
Arundell,  one  of  the  Wardens,  together  with  the  Town 
Clerk,  for  alleged  contempt.     (Letter  of  the  Mayor  and 
Aldermen,  State  Papers.)     The  charge  of  illegally  levying 
money  entirely  broke  down.     The  simple  fact  was  that  the 
Corporation  and  their  agents,  the  Society,  following  a  long- 
established  custom,  had  increased  the  Wharfage  dues,  and 
possibly  other  local  imposts,  to  assist  in  discharging  the 
King's  demands  for  Ship-money.    Foiled  in  this  direction, 
the    commissioners   fell    upon    other   classes   with   great 
severity.      The   soapmakers,    as    has   been    shown,    had 
purchased  a  license  to  manufacture  a  small  quantity  of 
soap;     the    brewers    had    obtained   a   similar    license   to 
export  a   limited    quantity    of    beer;    and    the    Society, 
as    will    presently    be    stated,    held    restricted    licenses 
for  the  exportation  of  calf-skins  and  Welsh  butter.     The 


commissioners,  who  acted  as  prosecutors  as  well  as  judges, 
declared  that  all  these  licenses  had  been  fraudulently 
exceeded,  and  discreditable  means  were  employed  for 
extracting  evidence  from  the  partners,  friends,  customers, 
and  servants  of  the  accused  persons  in  support  of  the 
charges.  The  Privy  Council  in  the  meanwhile  counte- 
nanced these  manoeuvres  by  summoning  merchants  and 
others  to  London,  and  forcing  them  to  give  details 
as  to  their  business  transactions.  At  length  a  party  of 
four  aldermen  and  several  members  of  the  Society  made 
their  way  to  the  royal  presence,  and  prayed  the  King 
"  on  their  knees"  to  take  their  distress  into  consideration. 
But  Charles,  who  had  taken  much  interest  in  the  persecu- 
tion from  the  outset,  and  had  personally  approved  of  the 
policy  of  the  Privy  Council,  coldly  replied  that  the  inquiry 
could  not  be  suspended  ;  but  that  the  petitioners  might, 
if  they  thought  fit,  prefer  a  Bill  against  the  commissioners 
in  the  Star  Chamber — a  tribunal  whose  obsequiousness  to 
the  Court  and  sympathy  with  royal  instruments  precluded 
any  hope  of  redress.  As  there  are  no  further  papers 
respecting  the  commission  to  be  found  in  the  Record 
Office,  it  may  be  surmised  that  the  Government  at  length 
recognised  the  fruitlessness  of  the  inquiry,  and  ordered 
its  discontinuance. 

It  is  necessary  to  revert  to  the  reign  of  James  the 
First  to  explain  the  origin  of  another  monopoly.  In  1605 
the  King  granted  a  charter  to  some  London  merchants, 
styled  "  The  Merchants  of  England  of  the  Levant  Seas," 
but  commonly  known  as  the  Turkey  Company,  conferring 
upon  them,  in  perpetuity,  an  exclusive  right  of  trading 
with  the  Turkish  dominions  and  the  fruit  islands  lying 
off  Greece.  The  profits  of  this  commerce  being  estimated 
soon  afterwards  at  "  three  to  one,"  Bristol  merchants 
became  desirous  of  adventuring  in  this  direction  ;  and 


in  1618,  having  petitioned  the  Privy  Council,  and  pleaded 
the  liberties  granted  in  their  charters,  the  members  of 
the  Society,  after  spending  about  £70  in  gratuities  at 
Whitehall,  obtained  leave  to  import  yearly  200  tons  of 
currants  from  Zante  and  Cephalonia,  on  paying  an 
acknowledgment  of  65.  8d.  per  ton  to  the  Turkey 
Company.  Two  Bristol  ships  were  accordingly  sent 
out  in  the  same  year,  and  the  results  were  so  satisfactory 
that  in  1619  two  vessels,  of  100  and  80  tons  respectively, 
carried  out  cargoes  and  money  to  the  value  of  £5,400, 
and  returned  in  the  following  year  after  a  prosperous 
voyage.  No  further  incident  is  mentioned  until  1632, 
when  the  Turkey  Company  applied  for  the  arrears  of 
the  acknowledgment — which  they  seem  to  have  wholly 
overlooked — and  issued  a  new  set  of  rules  for  regulating 
the  trade.  The  Society,  in  reply,  stated  that  they  would 
buy  from  the  Company's  agents,  as  desired,  if  the  price 
were  not  higher  than  that  of  the  Greeks,  but  objected 
to  other  restrictions  as  inconvenient  to  local  merchants, 
whose  share  of  the  trade  was  so  small  that  their  traffic 
could  not  injure  the  Company,  or  lower  prices.  As  to 
the  acknowledgment,  it  would  be  impossible  to  collect 
thirteen  years'  arrears,  as  many  importers  were  dead, 
but  the  dues  should  be  paid  in  future,  whenever 
demanded.  (Book  of  Trade.)  Perhaps  in  revenge  for  this 
resistance,  the  Turkey  Company,  in  1633,  sent  a  cargo 
of  currants  into  Bristol,  in  violation  of  the  Privy  Council's 
order  that  neither  party  should  trespass  on  the  other's 
preserves,  leading  to  a  fresh  protest  from  the  Society. 

It  may  be  as  well  to  complete  the  story  of  the  Levant 
trade.  At  the  date  of  the  Restoration  the  commerce 
between  Bristol  and  Eastern  Europe  had  largely  increased 
in  despite  of  frequent  interference  by  the  London 
monopolists.  The  latter,  in  1665,  doubled  the  imposition 


on  currants  and  oil  imported  into  the  Avon,  and  sought 
by  increased  taxation  to  oust  the  Society  from  the  trade, 
the  Customs  officers  being  bribed  to  assist  in  the  scheme. 
Several  members  of  the  Hall  were  summoned  before  the 
Privy  Council  to  answer  the  complaints  of  their 
opponents,  and  the  Society  were  so  alarmed  that  a  com- 
mittee was  appointed  to  defend  the  accused,  "  or  to  make 
the  best  composition  they  can  with  the  Company,"  which 
was  to  be  left  free  to  deal  with  such  Bristolians  as  were 
non-members  as  it  thought  fit.  The  dispute  being  still 
unsettled  in  1666,  a  remittance  of  £100  was  sent  to  Sir 
John  Knight,  M.P.,  "for  the  better  managing"  of  the 
matter.  Counsel  were  thereupon  engaged  to  defend  the 
Society  before  the  Privy  Council,  and  the  issue  is  recorded 
in  the  minutes  of  that  body  on  May  23rd  : — "After  a  full 
hearing  of  the  dispute  between  the  Levant  Company  and 
the  merchants  of  Bristol  trading  to  Zante,  Ordered  by 
the  King  in  Council,  that  henceforth  no  imposition  be 
demanded  by  the  Levant  Company  from  any  Bristol 
merchant  trading  to  Venice  or  Zante  for  the  goods  of 
those  places  only."  Local  rejoicing  over  this  victory  was, 
however,  premature.  As  the  Privy  Council  books  show, 
the  Turkey  Company  entered  a  caveat  against  the  above 
order,  and  in  the  State  Papers  for  1669  is  a  report  of  a 
committee  appointed  by -the  Government  to  reconsider 
the  protests  of  the  Londoners  against  the  infraction  of 
their  charter.  No  doubt  through  a  secret  understanding, 
another  London  clique,  the  Hamburg  Company,  raised 
a  simultaneous  lament  over  the  intrusion  of  Bristolians 
in  the  trade  of  Southern  Germany,  a  region  which  they 
contended  was  exclusively  reserved  to  themselves.  As 
was  usual  on  such  occasions,  both  the  confederacies 
declared  they  would  be  ruined  unless  their  monopolies 
were  preserved ;  though  oddly  enough  each  Company 


expressed  its  willingness  to  admit  Bristolians  as  members 
on  payment  of  small  fines.  The  Privy  Council  held 
several  meetings  to  discuss  the  subject,  and  as  the  Society's 
minutes  are  mysteriously  reticent,  there  was  probably 
much  secret  negotiating  at  Court.  Eventually,  the  rights 
of  the  Society  under  their  charters  were  again  recognised, 
and  the  Levant  Company  were  compelled  to  abandon  the 
field.  The  Hamburg  Company's  claims  appear  to  have 
been  previously  withdrawn. 

When  almost  every  branch  of  trade,  manufactures, 
and  commerce  was  restrained  and  harassed  by  the 
monopolies  conceded  by  the  Crown  to  Court  favourites 
and  London  confederacies,  it  is  not  surprising  that 
Bristol  merchants,  shut  out  from  many  regions,  should 
have  sought  to  better  their  position  by  participating  in  a 
system  that  enriched  their  rivals.  The  exportation  of 
leather  was  prohibited  by  statute,  but  in  1614,  according 
to  an  entry  in  the  Hall's  Book  of  Trade,  James  the  First 
granted  the  Society,  represented  by  five  of  its  wealthiest 
members,  Francis  Knight,  John  Whitson,  Matthew 
Haviland,  Robert  Aldworth,  and  Abel  Kitchin,  liberty 
to  export  annually,  for  forty  years,  1,000  dickers  (120,000) 
of  tanned  calf-skins,  paying  the  Crown  a  yearly  acknow- 
ledgment of  55.  per  dicker,  or  ^250  ;  and  the  grantees, 
ship  captains,  and  others  engaged  in  the  trade  were 
exempted  from  the  penalties  imposed  by  Act  of  Parlia- 
ment. Although  this  entry  bears  every  appearance  of 
genuineness,  it  is  irreconcilable  with  documents  in  the 
State  Papers  and  in  the  "Book  of  Trade"  itself.  The 
above  patent  was  probably  revoked  for  reasons  now 
unknown  ;  at  all  events  the  patent  that  actually  came 
into  operation,  conceding  precisely  the  same  privileges, 
was  granted  a  year  later  to  one  William  Lewis,  who 
conceded  his  privilege  to  the  merchants  in  consideration 


of  a  yearly  rent.  Another  patent  of  the  same  kind  was 
granted  by  the  King  to  a  man  named  Maxwell.  In 
1640  the  Privy  Council  were  besieged  with  complaints 
respecting  the  working  of  these  monopolies,  it  being 
asserted  that  sole  leather  had  greatly  advanced  in  price 
owing  to  the  craft  of  the  patentees,  who,  under  colour  of 
their  licenses,  illegally  exported  hides  of  the  best  sort. 
(Privy  Council  Minutes.)  After  a  temporary  suspension, 
however,  the  trade  was  allowed  to  continue.  But  in 
December,  1641,  many  monopolies  were  threatened  by 
the  House  of  Commons,  and  the  Society,  alarmed  at  the 
prospect,  addressed  a  letter  to  the  members  for  the  city, 
representing  the  urgency  of  maintaining  Lewis's  patent 
in  the  interests  of  local  trade.  Some  of  the  arguments 
are  rather  amusing  : — 

The  revocation  will  take  away  half  the  trade  of  the  city,  to  the 
undoing  of  many  families  and  the  decay  of  shipping,  the  commodity 
being  the  principal  one  exported  hence.  The  skins  are  a  superfluity 
in  this  kingdom,  the  lighter  kind  serving  only  shoemakers  to  deceive 
poor  and  ignorant  chapmen,  who  pay  for  the  shadow  instead  of  the 
substance,  the  leather  not  being  durable.  [The  quality  of  foreigner's 
shoes  was  clearly  unworthy  of  consideration.]  The  prohibition  will 
also  entail  a  loss  of  ,£"9,000  a-year  in  the  Customs.  If  the  intention 
be  only  to  damme  Mr.  Lewis's  patent,  and  to  suffer  Maxwell's  to 
continue,  we  entreat  you  to  consider  the  tyranny  we  shall  be  under 
by  increasing  the  rate,  by  limiting  the  quantity,  and  by  the  Turkish 
dealings  of  a  rapacious  Moore  that  will  be  here  his  agent,  the  wounds 
of  whose  Tallents  (talons  ?)  in  most  of  us  remains  to  this  day  uncured. 
It  would  be  better  to  underprop  Lewis's  patent  than  to  suffer  a  sluice 
to  open  that  will  let  in  such  a  deluge  of  evils.  Nevertheless,  if  it  be 
possible  to  reassume  Lewis's  patent  into  the  city  or  Society's  hands, 
it  would  prove  a  singular  benefit.  ...  If  this  be  too  difficult,  and 
if  there  is  a  prospect  that  both  patents  will  be  revoked,  you  are  to 
consider  whether  the  plan  should  be  opposed,  as  the  trade  of  Bristol 
would  probably  be  maintained  with  as  much  vivacity  as  before.  (!) 

Parliament  took  neither  of  these  courses,  but  simply 
inserted  calf-skins  in  the  tariff  of  Customs  as  exportable 


articles.  A  license  to  export  them  was  also  granted  to- 
the  Bristol  merchants  in  1645,  and  again  in  1648.  The 
subject  drops  out  of  sight  until  1653,  when  the  Society 
petitioned  the  House  of  Commons,  setting  forth  the 
vexations  they  had  suffered  through  the  repeated  prosecu- 
tions of  one  Measy,  who  based  his  suits  on  the  ancient 
Acts  prohibiting  exports  of  leather.  They  had  licenses 
to  export,  and  had  paid  the  Customs  duty,  yet  by  this 
man's  proceedings  they  were  reduced  to  great  straits, 
and  were  not  only  likely  to  be  undone,  but  the  whole 
commerce  of  the  city  to  be  ruined,  unless  relieved.  The 
House  at  once  ordered  Measy's  suit  in  the  Court  of 
Exchequer  to  be  discontinued.  (Commons  Journals.) 
He,  however,  resumed  the  action,  in  1655,  and  gained 
a  judgment  nisi,  when,  on  the  petition  of  the  Society,  the 
Council  of  State  ordered  the  Court  to  quash  the  prosecu- 
tion. (State  Papers.)  Measy  in  his  turn  petitioned  in 
1656,  alleging  that  he  and  Hugh  Lewis  (the  obnoxious 
deputy  Customs  Searcher,  and  the  heir  of  the  original 
calf-skin  patentee)  had  been  prosecuting  the  Bristol 
merchants  for  divers  years  for  their  illegal  exports,  and 
had  spent  £1,000  in  law  costs,  whereby  both  plaintiffs 
were  ruined.  He  added  that  the  merchants,  boasting 
of  their  purses,  had  succeeded  in  ousting  from  office 
Lewis,  who  had  died  in  misery,  leaving  a-  large  family. 
If  the  Council  would  allow  the  suit  to  be  prosecuted,  the 
revenue  would  benefit  by  .£20,000.  The  Government, 
however,  again  ordered  the  action  to  be  stayed.  Having 
the  statute  law  on  his  side,  Measy  forthwith  petitioned 
again.  In  this  appeal  he  asserted  that  Lewis  had  begun 
to  sue  the  merchants  .  for  exporting  in  excess  of  their 
license  in  1643  ;  that  when  the  king's  troops  captured 
Bristol  in  that  year  the  merchants,  out  of  spite,  denounced 
Lewis  to  Lord  Hopton  as  a  traitor,  on  which  he  was 



plundered  by  the  soldiers ;  and  that  when  Parliament 
recovered  the  city,  two  years  later,  the  same  merchants 
again  denounced  him  as  a  delinquent  to  the  victors, 
through  which  he  was  deprived  of  his  office.  The  Society 
moreover  refused  to  pay  him  the  rent  reserved  by  his 
license  after  1647  or  1648,  and  he  died  without  a  penny. 
The  petitioner,  having  freely  lent  £500  to  Parliament, 
begged  that  the  law  might  have  its  course.  In  reply  he 
was  ordered  to  drop  the  prosecution ;  but  this  he  refused 
to  do,  and  six  months  later  he  reiterated  his  supplication 
to  the  Protector,  only  to  receive  a  final  rebuff.  (State 
Papers.)  The  Society,  in  1655,  being  entreated  for  help 
by  Lewis's  distressed  widow,  voted  her  a  sum  "  not 
exceeding  £100,"  provided  she  surrendered  her  rights 
under  the  patent,  and  renounced  her  claim  to  the  heavy 
arrears  of  rent.  Four  years  later,  an  additional  sum  of 
^50  was  granted  for  the  relief  of  Lewis's  numerous 
children,  "  in  full  of  all  demands."  Immediately  after  the 
Restoration  (Sir)  John  Knight,  M.P.,  was  requested  to 
apply  for  the  revival  of  the  patent  on  the  extraordinary 
plea  that  it  was  taken  from  the  Society  when  it  had 
twelve  years  to  run  !  A  petition  to  the  same  effect  was 
presented  to  Charles  the  Second,  but  the  Hall  records 
are  significantly  silent  as  to  the  response. 

The  Society  had  a  considerable  interest  in  another 
monopoly.  About  1617,  James  the  First  granted  to  two 
Welshmen  a  patent  permitting  them,  for  twenty-one 
years,  in  despite  of  statute  law,  to  export  6,000  kilder- 
kins of  butter  from  the  counties  of  Monmouth  and 
Glamorgan,  on  payment  to  the  Crown  of  £300  per 
annum.  The  patent  was  soon  afterwards  purchased  by 
a  London  merchant  named  Henley,  who  immediately 
attempted  to  exclude  Bristolians  from  one  of  their 
usual  trades,  "as  if,"  indignantly  wrote  the  Society  in 


1621  to  the  members  of  Parliament  for  the  city,  "  God 
had  no  sons  to  whom  He  gave  the  benefit  of  the  earth 
but  in  London."  The  royal  prerogative  then  over-riding 
the  law,  the  Society  found  themselves  compelled  to 
submit  to  Henley's  terms,  and  purchased  from  him,  in 
1619,  the  right  to  ship  2,400  kilderkins  annually,  paying 
£400  in  cash,  and  undertaking  to  pay  yearly  £120  to 
the  King  and  ^240  to  the  patentee.  Though  this 
bargain  may  have  been  satisfactory  to  those  concerned 
in  it,  the  farmers  and  landed  gentry  on  the  opposite 
side  of  the  Severn,  being  deprived  of  an  open  market 
for  their  produce,  and  seeing  great  profits  made  by  the 
monopolists,  naturally  felt  aggrieved,  and  instructed  their 
representatives  to  seek  relief  in  the  House  of  Commons. 
The  Society,  apprehensive  of  the  consequences,  there- 
upon sent  up  instructions  to  the  members  for  Bristol, 
containing  the  passage  quoted  above.  The  letter  further 
asserts  that  the  Welsh  gentry  were  seeking  to  attack 
the  patent  because  their  servants  could  not,  as  formerly, 
be  employed  in  "  buying  and  stealing  (sic)  butter  duty 
free  " ;  whilst  their  allegation  that  the  exports  occasioned 
great  dearth  and  high  prices  was  "  merely  fabulous ;  for 
the  Society  will  maintain  that  the  price  has  not  exceeded 
3^.  per  Ib.  in  the  chief  Welsh  markets  and  4^.  in  Bristol 
notwithstanding  the  extraordinary  drought  of 
the  [past]  year,  which  has  been  done  by  our  care  and 
respect  in  supplying  the  market."*  The  writers  go  on 

*  This  remark  throws  a  flood  of  light  on  the  butter  transactions  of  the  Cor- 
poration, which  were  then  of  regular  occurrence.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  the  Society 
took  no  direct  part  in  "supplying  the  market"  ;  and  the  action  of  the  Corporation 
towards  that  end  shows  how  complete  was  the  ascendancy  of  the  mercantile  interest 
in  the  civic  body.  In  times  of  dearth,  the  Common  Council  rarely  took  any  step  to 
reduce  the  price  of  bread,  but,  after  the  purchase  of  the  Welsh  patent,  its  anxiety 
to  provide  the  community  with  cheap  butter  was  unremitting  even  when  there  was 
no  scarcity  at  all.  Thus  in  the  civic  Audit-book  for  1624-5  is  the  following  entry  :  — 
"  Paid  for  61  kint.  Butter  for  the  provision  of  the  city  next  year,  some  at  2\d.  and 
the  rest  at  afd.  per  Ib. — £87  ids.  nd."  The  receipts  for  1625-6  include :— "  Received 
for  6iJ  kints  butter  sold  to  the  poor,  £81  145.  nd."  A.  little  loss  was  usual,  and  was 
clearly  deemed  unimportant  provided  the  commonalty  were  kept  in  good  humour, 
and  the  Society  reaped  its  profits. 


to  affirm  that  the  Glamorganshire  complainants  had 
contemptuously  ignored  the  patent,  and  themselves 
transported  more  butter,  without  any  payment  to  the 
Crown,  than  the  patentees  had  done,  for  which  they 
ought  to  be  punished.  They  finally  come  to  the  real 
object  they  wish  to  attain,  and  instruct  their  representa- 
tives to  offer  the  King  an  additional  rent  of  £100  a 
year,  provided  he  would  transfer  the  entire  monopoly 
to  themselves.  (Book  of  Trade.)  The  Welsh  complaint, 
however,  obtained  sympathy  in  Parliament.  A  Bill  to 
throw  open  the  butter  trade  was  introduced  on  March 
25,  1621,  and  though  opposed  by  Alderman  Whitson 
on  behalf  of  the  Society,  went  through  all  its  stages 
in  both  Houses  ;  but  the  King,  acting  on  his  favourite 
principles,  and  scenting  additional  profits,  refused  the 
Royal  Assent.  (Journals  of  both  Houses.) 

Before  the  subject  turns  up  again,  a  fresh  butter 
patent  had  been  granted  by  Charles  the  First  to  Sir 
Henry  Hungatt,  who  had  transferred  his  monopoly  to 
the  Society,  in  consideration  of  a  rent  of  ^700  a  year. 
In  the  spring  of  1639,  the  King  prohibited  the  exportation 
of  butter  owing  to  a  national  dearth,  occasioning  a  dispute 
between  Hungatt  and  his  assignees,  the  former  demanding 
his  full  rent,  whilst  the  Society,  alleging  that  only  200 
kilderkins  out  of  the  fixed  6,000  had  been  shipped,  and 
that  nearly  1,000  kilderkins  were  perishing  in  their  stores, 
complained  that  Hungatt  had  made  no  effort  to  prevent 
the  export  of  English  butter,  as  it  was  his  duty  to  do,  and 
that  their  foreign  trade  was  ruined  by  vast  shipments 
from  Ireland.  With  a  view  to  an  amicable  settlement, 
the  Society  deputed  to  London  one  of  their  members, 
William  Yeamans,  one  of  those  engaged  in  the  tragic 
plot  of  1643,  of  which  his  brother  Robert  and  his  friend, 
George  Bowcher,  were  the  victims.  The  Society's  letter 



to  Hungatt,  carried  up  by  their  delegate,  requests  the 
knight  "  to  consider  his  (Yeamans')  particular  case.  He 
has  paid  part  of  the  fine  of  ^300,  and  has  been  sued  both 
in  the  Exchequer  and  Star  Chamber  for  the  same  thing, 
though  the  pardon  ought  to  be  as  available  to  him  as 
to  others."  The  obscurity  of  this  statement  has  been 
cleared  up  by  research  in  the  State  Papers.  It  appears 
that  the  Government  discovered  in  1636 — probably 
through  the  information  of  Dowell,  the  old  enemy  of  the 
merchants — that  the  Society  during  the  previous  eleven 
years  had  been  exporting  butter  largely  in  excess  of  their 
license.  A  commission  was  thereupon  issued  to  Dowell 
and  others,  and  the  Society,  being  unable  to  rebut  the 
charges,  had  been  fined  £300  for  the  offences  of  certain 
members,  whose  cases  were  then  dismissed.  Yeamans 
was  one  of  those  implicated,  but  the  commissioners  would 
not  absolve  him  with  the  others,  and  he  was  still  being 
prosecuted  when  his  interview  with  Hungatt  took  place, 
but  was  subsequently  pardoned  by  the  King.  Some 
arrangement  was  arrived  at  with  the  patentee,  for  the 
Society  continued  the  trade  for  some  years,  and  Measy's 
pertinacious  litigation  in  reference  to  the  calf-skins  patent 
extended  also  to  the  butter  monopoly,  which  appears  to 
have  come  to  an  end  during  the  Protectorate. 

A  final  negotiation  with  the  Crown  for  a  special 
privilege  was  commenced  in  November,  1672,  when  the 
Society  sought  to  procure  the  wine  licenses  for  the  city 
and  the  districts  four  miles  around  it,  providing  that  the 
grant  could  be  obtained  for  £600.  The  reason  for  taking 
this  step  is  candidly  stated  in  the  Hall's  resolution : — 
"  Should  the  Vintners  farm  them  they  would  .  .  .  hold 
the  merchants  to  their  own  humours  as  to  prices,  &c." 
Colonel  John  Romsey,  Collector  of  Customs  (afterwards 
concerned  in  the  Rye  House  plot),  was  solicited  to  treat 


with  the  Government,  but  he  was  either  unwilling  or 
perfunctory,  and  Sir  John  Knight  was  employed  to  press 
the  claim.  The  Vintners,  however,  obtained  a  renewal  of 
the  privilege,  and  a  second  attempt  to  oust  them,  in  1683, 
was  equally  unsuccessful. 

Turning  to  the  legitimate  business  of  the  Society 
during  the  seventeenth  century,  precedence  is  due  to  the 
adventure  set  on  foot  in  1602-3  by  Aldermen  Aldworth 
and  Whitson,  and  other  members  of  the  Society,  for  the 
exploration  of  ''Northern  Virginia" — the  New  England 
of  later  generations.  A  fund  of  about  ^1,000  having 
been  raised,  a  little  vessel  named  the  Speedwell,  of  50 
tons  burden,  and  a  diminutive  companion  styled  the 
Discoverer,  of  20  tons,  were  properly  equipped  and  placed 
under  the  command  of  a  young  but  skilful  Bristol  mariner^ 
Martin  Pring,  who  sailed  from  Kingroad  on  March  23rd, 
1603,  and  reached  his  destination  early  in  June.  It  may 
be  observed  that  there  was  not  at  that  time  a  single 
English  settlement  on  any  part  of  the  American  continent. 
Pring  remained  about  two  months  in  the  Bay  of  Massa- 
chusetts, lying  for  some  time  in  a  harbour  to  which  he 
gave  the  name  of  Whitson,  but  which  subsequently 
became  memorable  as  the  Plymouth  at  which  the  Pilgrim 
Fathers  landed  seventeen  years  later.  Having  made  a 
close  survey  of  the  neighbouring  coast,  and  loaded  his 
ships  with  sassafras,  then  a  valuable  medicinal  drug,  Pring 
set  sail  homewards,  and  reached  Bristol  on  October  2nd. 
His  glowing  account  of  the  new  country  was  published 
in  the  well-known  work  entitled  "  Purchas's  Pilgrims." 

Richard  Hakluyt,  one  of  the  prebendaries  of  Bristol 
Cathedral,  and  still  famous  as  a  geographer,  appears  to 
have  been  the  chief  promoter  of  the  enterprise. 


In  April,  1606,  mainly  through  the  representations  of 
Sir  Ferdinando  Gorges,  of  Wraxall,  James  the  First 
granted  a  charter  authorising  the  foundation  of  two 
colonies  in  "  Virginia,"  as  nearly  all  North  America  was 
then  called ;  the  northern  settlement  being  confided  to 
Gorges  and  Chief  Justice  Popham,  backed  by  several 
west -country  merchants.  (The  American  historian, 
Bancroft,  observes  that  the  above  letters  patent  con- 
stituted "the  first  colonial  charter  under  which  the  English 
were  planted  "  in  the  New  World.)  Popham,  who,  as  has 
been  already  stated,  had  been  Recorder  of  Bristol,  made 
urgent  appeals  for  aid  to  his  friends  in  the  city ;  and  a 
subscription  list  was  opened  at  the  Council  House ;  but 
only  about  a  dozen  members  of  the  Society  were  induced 
to  co-operate,  and  their  help  was  but  limited.  Thomas 
James,  then  Mayor,  undertook  to  contribute  ^13  6s.  8^. 
annually  for  five  years,  and  the  Sheriff,  John  Guy,  promised 
a  similar  amount.  The  other  subscriptions  varied  from 
£12  i  os,  to  505.  per  annum.  A  sufficient  sum  was,  however, 
raised  to  equip  a  Bristol  ship,  of  which  Thomas  Hannam 
was  commander,  and  Pring  was  navigator.  There  is  no 
known  account  of  the  voyage,  except  a  brief  note  by 
Gorges  that  Pring  returned  with  "  the  most  exact 
discovery  of  that  coast  that  ever  came  to  my  hands." 
Two  more  ships  sailed  from  Plymouth  in  1607,  when 
attempts  were  made  to  establish  a  settlement,  but  the 
emigrants  returned  to  England  in  the  following  year. 
Notwithstanding  this  failure,  Pring's  reports  as  to  the 
resources  of  the  regions  he  had  visited  kindled  a  spirit  of 
adventure,  and  in  response  .to  an  application  made  to 
the  Privy  Council  by  a  number  of  London  and  Bristol 
merchants,  the  King,  in  1610,  granted  a  patent  authorising 
the  plantation  of  a  settlement  in  Newfoundland.  A  few 
courtiers,  amongst  whom  the  great  name  of  Bacon  stands 


conspicuous,  were  joined  with  the  mercantile  patentees. 
The  members  of  the  Society  who  took  part  in  the  move- 
ment included  John  Guy,  Matthew  Haviland,  Thomas 
Aldworth,  Richard  Holworthy,  John  Langton,  Humphry 
Hooke,  Philip  Guy,  William  Meredith  and  John  Doughty, 
The  first  named  was  appointed  Governor  of  the  incor- 
poration, and  showed  himself  devoted  to  the  enterprise. 
Three  ships  having  been  equipped  with  an  ample  supply 
of  provisions,  live  cattle,  poultry,  &c.,  the  Governor,  with 
his  brother  Philip,  his  brother-in-law  William  Colston, 
and  thirty-nine  emigrants,  set  sail  from  Kingroad  in 
May,  1610,  and  reached  the  island  in  twenty-three  days. 
The  party  forthwith  set  about  the  erection  of  a  fort  and 
stockade,  dwellings  and  storehouses,  and  Guy  built  himself 
a  mansion,  called  Sea  Forest  House.  In  1611  he  returned 
to  England  to  promote  the  extension  of  the  colony,  leaving 
his  brother  deputy-governor,  but  set  out  again  in  1612, 
accompanied  by  a  clergyman  and  several  more  emigrants. 
After  his  final  return  to  Bristol,  William  Colston  became 
deputy -governor.  The  settlement,  however,  was  not 
permanently  successful.  By  his  will,  dated  in  1626,  Mr. 
Guy  left  the  Sea  Forest  estate  to  his  four  sons,  then  minors, 
but  all  trace  of  the  settlement  disappears  after  1628. 

In  the  meantime  another  local  effort  had  been  made 
in  the  same  direction  and  with  similar  objects.  A 
provokingly  brief  note  in  one  of  the  books  in  the  Hall 
states  that  during  the  Mastership  of  Alderman  Barker 
(1617-8),  "divers  merchants  of  this  Society  did  set 
forward  the  plantation  of  land  in  Newfoundland  called 
Bristol  Hope,"  merely  adding  that  the  district  had  been 
acquired  from  the  adventurers  of  whom  Guy  was 
Governor.  Scarcely  anything  more  is  known  about  it, 
and  the  project  was  doubtless  abandoned  like  its  fore- 
runner after  a  brief  trial. 


In  November,  1620,  on  the  petition  of  Sir  Ferdinando 
Gorges,  King  James  granted  another  patent,  incorporating 
what    was    commonly    called     the    "Council    for    New 
England,"   on   which    his   Majesty  graciously   conferred 
the  whole  of  North  America  from  the  Atlantic  to  the 
Pacific,    lying,   as   regarded   its   eastern   shore,   between 
the  mouth  of  the  St.  Lawrence  and  the  present  city  of 
Philadelphia,   with    exclusive    rights    of    fishing    on    the 
Atlantic    coast.      From    a    document    in    the    Colonial 
State  Papers  it  appears  that  Walter   Sandy — probably 
the  Society's  Treasurer  in  1645 — was  concerned  in  the 
enterprise ;     and    that    the    Government    were    already 
striving  to  prevent  the  emigration  of   Puritans,  for  the 
charter  provided  that  "no  fanatics  or  vicious  in  religion" 
should    be  admitted   into   the   territory.      Gorges   made 
repeated   overtures,  through   the   Mayor,  to  the  Bristol 
merchants,  proposing  that  they  should  form  themselves 
into  a  joint-stock  company,   and  exercise  the  privileges 
of  fishing,  &c.,  on  paying  a  share  of  the  profits  to  the 
New  England  Council ;  but  the  members  of  the  Society 
had  an  invincible  repugnance  to  joint-stock  enterprises, 
and   his   proposal   was    "  in    no   wise   liked."      He   sub- 
sequently offered  to  grant  a  Bristol  ship  the  perpetual 
privilege  of  fishing  on  payment  of  £10  for  each  30  tons 
burden ;    following  this  up   by  an  undertaking  to  make 
a    free    gift   of    200   acres    of    land    to    every   one   who 
adventured    ^12    los.    in   the    settlement,   and   to   grant 
100  acres  more  at  a  quit-rent  of  55.  for  each  member 
of  the  emigrant's  family.     The  King  further  stirred  the 
Mayor    and    the    Lord    Lieutenants    of    the    adjoining 
counties  to   promote  an  adventure   so  advantageous   to 
western    trade ;     but    there    is    no    evidence    that    the 
mercantile    community    were    moved    by    the    appeal. 
Sir  F.  Gorges  was  allied  by  marriage  with  the  Smyth 


family  of  Ashton  Court,  and  was  residing  in  1632  in 
their  Great  House  at  St.  Augustine's  Back,  so  long 
known,  at  a  later  date,  as  Colston's  School.  In  August, 
1632,  probably  through  a  negotiation  with  him,  Robert 
Aldworth,  a  wealthy  member  of  the  Society,  and  his 
relative  Giles  Elbridge,  also  a  member,  obtained  a 
grant  from  the  Council  of  New  England  of  a  con- 
siderable tract  of  land  in  America,  and  were  promised 
100  additional  acres  for  every  immigrant,  provided  they 
founded  and  maintained  a  colony. 

As  has  been  already  stated,  the  records  of  the  Society 
at  this  period  have  disappeared,  and  those  of  the 
Corporation  and  of  the  annalists  are  singularly  meagre. 
Recent  research  at  the  Privy  Council  Office,  however, 
has  produced  some  interesting  facts.  Under  November 
22nd,  1639,  the  following  appears  in  their  lordships' 
Minutes : — 

A  petition  was  read  from  Richard  Long  [Mayor,  M.P.,  and 
twice  Master],  John  Taylor  [Treasurer,  Mayor,  and  M.P.],  and 
John  Gonning  [Master  and  Mayor],  owners  of  the  Mary  Rose,  180 
tons,  stating  that  they  have  for  many  years  adventured  to  New- 
foundland, and  carried  fish  thence  to  Spain,  and  returned  with 
wines  to  England,  paying  the  King  great  sums  of  money;  and 
praying  license  to  send  the  above  ship  to  New  England.  The 
Lord  Treasurer  is  thereupon  prayed  to  order  the  Customs  officers 
in  Bristol  to  suffer  the  ship  to  proceed  with  the  passengers  therein, 
on  their  taking  the  oaths  of  allegiance  and  supremacy  [which  were 
obnoxious  to  extreme  Puritans]. 

An  appended  schedule  states  that  there  were  120  passengers, 
and  that  the  cargo  consisted  of  meal,  shoes,  cheese,  gunpowder, 
shot,  candles,  pewter,  soap,  nails,  wine,  vinegar,  and  one  tun  of 
hot  waters  [gin] . 

Minutes  of  a  similar  character  occur  in  January  and 
April,  1640,  when  like  permits  were  granted  to  the  owners 
of  four  Bristol  ships:  the  Neptune,  with  125  passengers; 
the  Fellowship  and  the  Charles,  each  with  250  passengers  ; 


and  the  William  and  John,  with  60  passengers,  raising  the 
total  number  of  emigrants  in  five  months  to  upwards  of 
800.  Each  of  the  above  vessels  had  also  a  general  cargo, 
one  of  them  exporting  20  dozen  of  Monmouth  caps,  and 
another  750  gallons  of  "  hot  water."  From  the  fact  that 
the  States  of  Massachusetts  and  Rhode  Island  have  each 
a  county  named  Bristol,  and  that  the  latter  State  has 
also  a  town  of  that  name,  it  may  be  presumed  that  most 
of  the  emigrants  settled  in  those  localities. 

The  number  of  passengers  carried  away  by  the  above 
vessels  is  sufficient  to  denote  that  a  remarkable  develop- 
ment had  taken  place  in  the  shipping  of  the  port  during 
the  previous  twenty  years.      This  is  another  subject  upon 
which  there  is  absolutely  no  information  to  be  found  in  any 
Bristol  documents  or  histories,  but  on  which  the  minutes 
of   the  Privy  Council  and  papers  in  the   Record  Office 
are  astonishingly  eloquent.     In  1619  the  mercantile  body 
averred  that  the  commerce  of  the  port  was  chiefly  carried 
on  in  Scotch  and  Flemish  ships,  and  that  the  city  and  its 
merchants  were   "very  poor."      But  between    1626  and 
1628,  when    the  Government  granted   letters  of  marque 
authorising  the  capture  of  French  and  Spanish  merchant- 
men, upwards  of  sixty  privateering  ships  were  fitted  out 
in  Bristol,  and  nearly  all  the  larger  vessels  belonged  to 
members  of  the  Society.     For  example,  Humphry  Browne 
and  others  sent  out  the  George,  of  300  tons ;   John  Barker 
and  partners  the  Charles,  of  300,  the  Joseph,  of  150,  and 
the  Mary  Rose,  of  200  tons;  Humphry  Hooke  and  partners, 
the  Abraham,  of  200,  the  Eagle,  of  140,  the  James,  of  100, 
and  two  of  smaller  tonnage  ;  Thomas  Colston,  the  Bristol 
Merchant,  of  200,  and  the  Mary,  of  60  tons ;  John  Conning 
and  Co.,  the  Lion,  of  220,  another  of  100,  and  a  third  of 
50  tons;    Giles  Elbridge  and  Co.,  the  Angel  Gabriel,  of 
300  tons,  and  four  others  varying  from  150  to  30  tons; 


William  Pitt  and  Co.  had  three,  varying  from  200  to  25 
tons  ;  C.  Driver  and  Co.  had  four,  from  200  to  40  tons ; 
and  W.  Ellis  had  one  of  200  and  another  of  100  tons. 
Martin  Pring  was  in  command  of  Alderman  Barker's 
ship,  the  Charles,  and  was  notably  successful  in  bringing  in 
prizes,  one  of  which  was  a  Spanish  war-ship  of  about  30 
guns.  Thomas  Nethaway  commanded  the  Angel  Gabriel, 
and  his  gallantry  in  beating  off  three  Spanish  men-of-war 
(one  of  twice  his  armament)  is  commemorated  in  a  spirit- 
stirring  local  ballad.  Of  all  the  adventurers,  however, 
Humphry  Hooke  gleaned  the  greatest  financial  harvest, 
one  of  his  ships,  the  Eagle,  having  alone  brought  in  prizes 
in  1630  to  the  value  of  £40,000.  By  the  help  of  these 
and  other  windfalls,  Hooke,  who  came  here  as  a  boy  from 
Chichester,  became  very  wealthy,  and  purchased  the 
Kingsweston  estate  and  other  extensive  properties.  The 
Lord  Admiral  (Buckingham)  claimed  one-tenth  of  the 
value  of  all  the  prizes,  and  these  payments  amounted 
altogether  to  £20,000. 

"A  Note  of  things  appertaining  to  the  Society"  made 
in  December,  1631,  seems  to  indicate  that  during  the 
above  exciting  period  some  additional  provision  was  made 
for  convivial  gatherings.  It  is  somewhat  singular  that 
no  record  exists  of  the  erection  of  the  Hall.  In  a  new 
feoffment  of  the  Society's  property  executed  in  1610,  the 
estate  in  the  Marsh  is  described  as  being  for  the  main- 
tenance of  the  Society's  almshouse.  But  the  Chapel  of 
St.  Clement  had  not  been  destroyed,  and  was  doubtless 
used  for  ordinary  meetings.  The  first  definite  mention 
of  a  Hall  occurs  during  the  Mastership  of  John  Doughty 
(1623-4),  m  tne  following  terms: — "This  year  the  Hall 
of  the  Society  was  wainscotted,  and  the  Audit  dinner  was 
appointed  to  be  held  in  the  Hall."  And  in  1647,  when 
the  surviving  feoffees  of  1610  executed  a  new  feoffment > 


the  description  of  the  estate  is  altered  thus: — "All  that 
the  Chapel  or  Hall,  heretofore  called  or  known  by  the 
name  of  St.  Clement's  Chapel,  and  now  called  by  the 
name  of  the  Merchants'  Hall,  and  used  as  their  Common 
Hall  for  assemblies  and  meetings  of  the  Company." 
The  accommodation  must  have  been  very  contracted, 
but  no  important  alteration  was  made  until  the  following 

The  inventory  of  1631,  referred  to  above,  shows  the 
simplicity  of  the  surroundings  of  even  the  wealthiest 
citizens  of  the  age.  There  was  no  covering  for  the  floor, 
no  table  cutlery,  and  no  drinking  vessels.  Eighteen 
"joyned  stools"  seem  to  have  been  provided  for  present 
and  past  officers ;  ordinary  members  were  seated  upon  five 
homely  wooden  benches ;  but  thirty-eight  cushions,  new 
and  old,  may  have  made  the  planks  more  comfortable. 
"One  long  drawing-table  board,  with  two  leaves  and  two 
trippets"  (trestles  ?),  with  two  shorter  tables  were  covered 
at  ordinary  meetings  with  "  carpets  of  streaked  stuff,"  but 
at  dinners  with  damask  and  diaper.  A  standing  cupboard, 
a  sideboard  with  its  "carpet,"  fourteen  dozen  trenchers, 
and  six  dozen  napkins  are  also  mentioned.  The  walls  were 
decorated  with  a  carving  of  the  royal  arms,  and  coloured 
emblazonments  of  the  arms  of  the  Prince,  the  Society, 
and  the  city.  A  pair  of  brass  andirons,  "  a  pair  of  small 
creeps  of  iron  to  heave  up  the  wood,"  a  tin  standish,  a 
box  of  artificial  flowers,  and  a  corslet  and  head-piece  com- 
pleted the  furniture  of  the  apartment.  In  1668,  when 
some  additions  were  made  to  the  above  inventory,  the 
trenchers  and  wooden  forms  were  still  in  use,  but  thirteen 
leather  chairs  had  been  obtained  for  the  Master,  Wardens 
and  Assistants,  and  two  silver  tankards  with  a  stock  of  fresh 
diaper  served  to  grace  the  dinner-table.  A  third  inventory 
of  1697  proves  that  no  change  had  been  made  in  the  old 


arrangements — indeed,  the  number  of  cushions  was  re- 
duced to  nine.  But  pictures  of  five  benefactors  (Whitson, 
Kitchin,  Long,  Vickeris,  Jackson,  and  Browne)  adorned 
the  walls :  there  were  also  two  chests  with  three  locks 
each,  armour  and  arms  for  two  men,  six  pewter  candle- 
sticks, brass  snuffers  and  pan,  an  hour  glass,  a  hammer 
for  the  Master,  a  draught  of  the  ship  Monk,  and  "  the 
Tree  of  Knowledge  in  a  frame." 

The  conduct  in  1630  of  one  Richard  Morgan,  a  land- 
owner at  Pill,  in  interfering  with  the  navigation  of  the 
Avon,  doubtless  caused  much  excitement  in  the  Hall;  but 
it  would  appear  that  the  Society  contented  themselves 
with  inducing  the  Corporation  to  appeal  to  the  Govern- 
ment for  redress.  The  minutes  of  the  Privy  Council  for 
June  n,  1630,  recite  a  petition  of  the  Mayor  and  Alder- 
men, complaining  of  Morgan's  enormities  in  endangering 
shipping  by  denying  the  use  of  trees  and  posts  formerly 
used  for  mooring,  by  forbidding  the  erection  of  new  posts, 
and  especially  by  erecting  a  house  at  Crockern  Pill  in 
front  of  an  ancient  tree  used  for  mooring  vessels  time  out  of 
mind.  Their  lordships  thereupon  directed  a  warrant  to  be 
sent  to  Morgan,  requiring  him  to  demolish  the  tenement 
and  to  set  up  the  required  mooring  posts ;  if  he  refused, 
the  Mayor  and  Aldermen  were  directed  to  imprison  him 
until  he  submitted.  Morgan,  who  was  a  very  impractic- 
able man,  and  had  had  an  impracticable  father,  appealed 
against  the  Council's  decision,  and  obtained  a  re-hearing 
in  October,  but  had  no  reasonable  defence  to  make,  and 
the  previous  order  was  reiterated.  Further  resistance 
being  offered,  the  Privy  Council  resolved  to  depute  two 
impartial  dignitaries,  the  Archbishop  of  York  and  the 
Chief  Justice  of  the  Common  Pleas,  to  visit  the  place  and 
report  on  the  facts.  Archbishop  Harsnett  arrived  in  Bristol 
some  weeks  before  the  learned  judge.  Both  delegates 


were  received  in  great  state,  and  each  was  conducted 
to  Pill  by  water,  the  barges  being  well  stored  with  beef, 
pies,  sweetmeats,  cakes,  and  wine,  and  plentifully  saluted 
on  their  way  by  peals  of  cannon.  The  Archbishop's  report, 
the  only  one  preserved,  is  so  racy  as  to  deserve  a  lengthy 
summary : — 

Makes  bold  to  accompany  the  petition  of  the  Mayor  and  citizens 
with  these  few  (!)  lines.  Before  writing  has  been  down  the  Channel 
[river]  to  the  port,  with  the  Sheriffs  and  divers  grave  aldermen, 
and  is  an  eye-witness  to  all  the  particulars  mentioned  in  their 
petition  "  save  only  their  custom  which  is  vox  populi."  Cannot 
but  wonder  at  the  insolence  of  Mr  Morgan,  considering  his  father 
attempting  the  like  interruptions  in  King  James's  time,  when  he 
was  sent  for  and  clapped  by  the  heels,  and  the  city  has  enjoyed 
the  place  ever  since.  The  new  erecting  of  a  tappehouse  is  so 
despitefully  done  of  set  purpose  to  prevent  the  mooring  of  ships 
at  the  ancient  tree  as  alone  deserves  sharp  demolition  for  example's 
sake;  for  if  this  bold  attempt  be  not  crushed  it  will  be  a  leading 
case  unto  other  owners  of  those  trees  and  soil,  and  the  whole 
port  might  be  utterly  overthrown.  Without  those  trees  and  posts, 
no  power  of  man  in  stress  of  weather  could  prevent  ships  from 
perishing.  The  gentleman  by  this  act  deserves  to  be  reputed  as 
Varro  was  in  Rome — an  enemy  not  of  one  city  but  of  all  the 
Republic.  "  And  yet,  my  lords,  this  man's  impunity  hath  pro- 
ceeded to  a  more  pernicious  device;  for  on  this  his  little  pill  of 
ground  he  hath  built  of  late  years  a  sconse  [fort]  which  doth  daily 
annoy  not  only  the  ships  but  the  manners,  mind,  and  spirit  of  the 
sea-faring  men ;  a  sconse  fortified  with  eleven  great  ordinance, 
that  is,  strong  pothouses  or  tapphouses  set  up  in  a  rond,  that 
discharge  neither  powder  nor  shot,  but  [tobacco]  smoke  and  strong 
beare,  which  doth  so  foul  and  defile  the  meaner  sort  with  drunkenness, 
swearing,  filthiness,  and  purloining  of  their  masters'  goods  as  makes 
naufragium  bononim  et  animorum  in  ipso  povtn.  This  your  lordships 
know  to  be  against  the  law,  not  having  four  acres  of  land  allotted 
to  any  new  tenement.  I  am  sure  it  is  against  good  piety  and 
religion,  and  against  the  public  welfare  and  honour  of  the  kingdom, 
and  so  deserves  a  total  and  final  eradecation.  That  the  little  city 
of  Bristol  is  a  fair  peale  [pearl  ?]  worth  the  cherishing  and  preserving 
I  will  say  no  more  but  this :  for  an  orderly  government,  care  of 
religion  and  provision  for  the  poor,  increase  of  navigation,  advance- 
ment of  His  Majesty's  Customs,  ability  of  citizens  to  do  His 


Majesty's  service,  and  conformity  to  His  Majesty's  laws  both 
ecclesiastical  and  temporal,  I  know  no  city  in  the  kingdom  to 
be  preferred  before  it,  and  it  deserves  neere  the  worse  quia  amant 
gentcm  nzam  [nostram] ;  the  regular  clergy  in  general  is  nowhere  so 
countenanced  and  maintained.  All  which  I  recommend  to  your 
lordships'  grave  wisdoms." 

The  obstructive  tenement  was  demolished  soon 
afterwards,  the  Corporation  giving  the  tenant  ^30  to 
erect  another  house,  but  the  "  sconse "  was  apparently 
untouched.  The  civic  body,  however,  had  to  make 
disbursements  which  exemplify  the  state  of  the  Court 
under  Charles's  rule.  In  order  to  obtain  the  Privy 
Council's  order,  "  gratuities "  had  to  be  made  to  a 
Gentleman  of  the  Bedchamber,  the  Clerks  of  the 
Council,  the  Clerks'  men,  the  doorkeepers,  the  door- 
keepers' men,  the  Lord  Treasurer's  secretary  and  his 
doorkeeper,  the  porters  of  the  Privy  Seal,  the  Archbishop's 
secretary,  and  various  lesser  underlings.  In  addition,  a 
fat  buck  was  sent  to  the  Archbishop,  and  £20  worth  of 
wine  and  sugar  were  forwarded  to  him  at  York.  Six 
sugar  loaves,  costing  £4  6s.  6d.,  with  £16  worth  of  wine 
were  also  presented  to  the  Chief  Justice.  Morgan 
remained  just  as  perverse  and  intractable  as  before,  and 
continued  to  defy  the  merchants  and  the  civic  authorities 
for  upwards  of  twenty  years.  See  Annals  of  Bristol  in  the 
Seventeenth  Century. 

Some  interesting  local  incidents  marked  the  year  1631 ; 
but  the  Society's  copious  correspondence  in  connection 
with  them  was  published  in  Seyer's  Memoirs  of  Bristol 
(ii.,  pp.  278-285),  and  reproduction  seems  unnecessary. 
It  may  suffice  to  say  that,  about  the  close  of  1630,  the 
King  became  interested  in  a  problem  which  was  then 
exciting  considerable  attention,  namely,  the  possibility  of 
finding  a  direct  route  to  India  and  China  by  way  of  the 
Arctic  seas ;  and  finally  resolved  to  send  out  a  small 


vessel  to  attempt  the  discovery.  His  determination  by 
some  means  became  known  to  the  Society,  who  forthwith 
resolved  to  co-operate  in  the  enterprise,  and  Captain 
Thomas  James,  an  able  Bristol  navigator,  was  selected  to 
command  a  ship  fitly  provided  for  the  expedition.  As  the 
King's  approval  was  indispensable,  the  Mayor,  John 
Tomlinson  (Master,  1627-8)  and  other  leading  merchants 
despatched  Captain  James  to  Court,  where,  in  a  personal 
interview,  the  King  expressed  his  cordial  approval  of  the 
Society's  proposal,  and  promised  them  an  equal  share  of 
the  advantages  expected  to  be  derived  from  the  discovery. 
The  local  adventurers,  of  whom  the  Mayor,  Humphry 
Hooke,  Andrew  Charleton,  Miles  Jackson,  Thomas  Cole, 
John  Barker,  Richard  Long,  John  Taylor  and  Giles 
Elbridge  were  the  chiefs,  thereupon  procured  a  ship  of 
80  tons  burden  (equal  in  size  to  the  King's)  and  named  it 
the  Henrietta  Maria  as  a  compliment  to  the  Queen.  The 
vessel,  with  a  crew  of  twenty-two  seamen,  and  a  large 
store  of  provisions,  left  Bristol  on  May  3rd,  1631,  and  on 
September  3rd  entered  a  bay  in  Hudson's  Strait,  still 
called  James's  Bay  in  honour  of  its  discoverer.  A 
month  later  the  vessel  reached  a  place  that  was  named 
Charleton,  after  the  Bristolian  mentioned  above ;  and  in 
consequence  of  the  danger  arising  from  the  packs  of  ice, 
it  was  resolved  to  sink  the  vessel  for  the  winter,  the  crew 
seeking  a  miserable  shelter  on  shore.  A  terribly  severe 
season  continued  until  the  following  May,  when  the  ship 
was  again  floated,  and  soon  after  departed  for  England, 
arriving  in  the  Avon,  in  an  extremely  shattered  condition, 
on  October  22nd,  1632.  The  career  of  the  King's  ship, 
commanded  by  a  man  named  Fox,  had  been  of  an 
inglorious  character,  the  captain  having  contented  himself 
with  an  aimless  cruise  of  six  months  in  regions  already 
explored.  James's  intrepidity  was  thus  widely  recognised, 


and  he  received  the  cordial  congratulations  of  the  King 
and  the  nobility  at  Court.  A  spirited  narrative  of  his 
adventures  was  written  by  him  soon  afterwards,  and  was 
published  in  1633,  in  which  year  he  was  appointed  captain 
of  a  war-ship  that  cruised  in  the  Bristol  Channel  for  the 
suppression  of  piracy.  It  is  scarcely  necessary  to  add 
that  the  members  of  the  Society  who  fitted  out  the 
Henrietta  Maria  reaped  a  barren  harvest  from  the 

It  will  be  seen  from  the  Ordinances  of  1618  (p.  73) 
that  when  disputes  as  to  matters  of  business  arose 
between  members  of  the  Society,  the  parties  concerned 
were  forbidden  to  appeal  to  the  Law  Courts  until  they 
had  submitted  the  matter  to  the  Master  and  Wardens, 
who  generally  succeeded  in  effecting  a  settlement  by 
arbitration.  Two  or  three  examples  may  here  be 

given  : — 

the  xxi  of  December  a°  1639. 

Att  this  generall  Courte  the  differences  depending  betweene  Mr 
Thomas  Colston  and  Gittens  Lewys  of  the  one  parte  and  Mr 
Gabriell  Sherman  and  partners  of  the  other  parte,  is  referred  vnto 
the  determinacon  of  Mr  John  Locke  and  Mr  Alexander  James,  vnto 
whose  determinacon  the  saide  parties  haue  submitted  and  bounde 
them  selves  either  to  other  in  an  assumpsit  of  one  hundred  pounds 
to  stand  to  theire  award  by  the  Change  of  a  piece  of  silver  either 
to  other,  soe  as  they  conclude  by  the  fifteenth  of  January  next. 

November  the  tenth  day  a°  1641. 

And  itt  is  this  day  agreed  That  whereas  Mr  Willm  Colston  is 
conceived  to  owe  some  money  vppon  the  butter  businesse,  Itt  is 
agreed  that  hee  should  make  choice  of  twoe  men  to  end  itt. 
Wherevppon  hee  desired  that  Mr  Willm  FitzHerbert  and  Mr  Willm 
Cann  might  determine  itt,  whoe  are  therefore  desired  to  doe  the 
same,  And  that  they  would  alsoe  take  into  consideracon  and 
determine  what  else  may  concerne  the  same  in  the  busines  in  the 
making  vpp  25'*  remaininge  to  bee  paid  to  Sir  Henry  Hungate. 

Alsoe  att  this  Court  the  difference  betweene  Mr  Willm  Colston 
and  the  owners  of  the  Globe  is  referred  vnto  Mr  Miles  Jackson 


and  Mr  Willm  Cann  on  the  part  of  the  said  Willm  Colston,  and 
Mr  Alderman  Charlton  &  Mr  Alderman  Tailer  on  the  parte  of  the 
saide  owners  of  the  Globe,  whoe  are  desired  to  determine  the 

The  proceedings  of  the  Long  Parliament  and  the 
great  national  convulsion  that  ensued  must  be  dealt 
with  very  briefly,  for  the  minutes  of  the  Society  furnish 
no  information  as  to  local  events.  In  October,  1640, 
two  eminent  merchants,  Humphry  Hooke  (seven  times 
Master)  and  Richard  Long  (twice  Master)  were  elected 
members  of  Parliament  for  the  city  by  the  Corporation 
and  the  freeholders,  the  free-burgesses  being  audaciously 
deprived  of  the  franchise.  But  in  May,  1642,  these 
representatives  were  expelled  by  the  House  of  Commons 
for  their  alleged  connection  with  monopolies.  Sir  John 
Glanville,  Recorder,  and  Alderman  Taylor,  a  member 
of  the  Society,  were  thereupon  elected  as  their  successors, 
but  those  gentlemen  soon  ceased  to  attend  the  House, 
perhaps  through  sympathy  with  the  King,  and  were  in 
turn  "  disabled,"  their  places  being  taken  by  two  zealous 
Parliamentarians,  Richard  Aldworth  (Warden,  1641)  and 
Luke  Hodges.  In  1643,  when  the  city  was  occupied 
by  the  troops  of  Parliament,  heavy  exactions  were  levied 
on  the  inhabitants  for  the  support  of  the  garrison  and 
for  the  erection  of  immense  fortifications.  How  members 
of  the  Society  were  dealt  with  is  illustrated  by  a  little 
but  eloquent  document  that  has  luckily  been  preserved. 
Governor  Fiennes  commanded  John  Conning,  jun. 
(Warden,  1640)  son  of  the  Alderman,  to  forthwith  pay 
in  ^200,  "which  sum,  in  respect  of  your  estate,  is  below 
the  proportion  required  of  other  persons  of  your  quality," 
with  a  threat  that,  on  refusal,  he  would  be  left  to  the 
tender  mercies  of  the  necessitous  soldiery. 

The  subsequent  plot  to  seize  the  city  and  hand  it 



over  to  Prince  Rupert  led  to  the  execution  of  its 
ringleaders,  both  valued  members  of  the  Society,  while 
a  few  other  merchants  had  to  ransom  themselves  by 
the  sacrifice  of  their  estates.  The  capture  of  Bristol 
by  the  Royalists,  a  few  months  later,  proved  that 
Fiennes'  whips  were  tolerable  compared  with  his 
successors'  scorpions.  The  Corporation,  as  soon  as 
the  conquest  had  been  achieved,  hastened  to  offer 
Prince  Rupert  ^1,400  to  save  the  inhabitants  from 
pillage ;  yet  the  houses  of  merchants  and  traders  charged 
with  disaffection  were  ruthlessly  sacked.  In  the  hope 
of  preventing  a  general  spoliation,  the  Corporation  next 
resolved  on  presenting  ^10,000  to  the  King,  and  a 
subscription  was  opened  for  that  purpose,  when  the 
chief  members  of  the  Society  contributed  as  follows : — 
Richard  Aldworth  (Mayor)  ^300 ;  Alderman  Charleton 
^"600 ;  Aldermen  Long  and  John  Langton  ^200  each  ; 
Aldermen  Conning  and  Hooke,  John  Conning  jun.,  and 
Hugh  Browne  ^150  each ;  several  others  offered  sums 
varying  from  £100  to  £20.  The  gift  had  scarcely  been 
made  up,  however,  before  it  was  announced  that  Prince 
Rupert  required  a  large  personal  gratification,  and  a 
second  ^10,000  had  consequently  to  be  raised.  The 
weekly  demand  for  the  maintenance  of  the  garrison 
seems  to  have  been  ^400  per  week ;  and  another 
enormous  weekly  rate  was  levied  to  strengthen  the 

The  only  compensation  which  the  members  of  the 
Society  obtained  for  these  perpetual  calls  on  their  purses 
was  the  new  charter  executed  by  Charles  the  First  in 
December,  1643,  granting  them  freedom  of  trade  in  Russia, 
Turkey,  the  Hanse  Towns,  and  Denmark  (p.  106).  In 
1644,  when  a  Mint  had  been  set  up  in  the  Castle,  writs  of 
Privy  Seal  were  coolly  addressed  to  the  wealthier  citizens, 


1 62  THE    SOCIETY    UNDER 

requiring  loyal  subjects  to  contribute  plate  for  conversion 
into  coin.  All  these  mandates  have  perished  save  one, 
directed  to  William  Wyatt,  Treasurer  of  the  Society  in 
1643,  from  which  it  appears  that  eighty  ounces  of  plate  had 
been  extorted  from  him.  A  few  weeks  later  the  Queen 
paid  a  visit  to  the  city,  when  "a  token  of  love"  in  the 
shape  of  £500,  in  silver  coin,  was  resolved  upon,  the 
corporation  contributing  £150,  and  the  rest  being  im- 
posed on  the  inhabitants  as  a  "benevolence."  In  the 
autumn,  Prince  Rupert  returned  from  the  North,  when 
£200  were  voted  for  his  entertainment,  and  the  merchants 
further  provided  wine  for  his  table  to  the  value  of  £100, 
which  sums  were  to  be  levied  on  the  citizens.  In  October 
the  Deputy  Governor,  Lord  Hopton,  coolly " propounded" 
that  £3,000  should  be  raised  for  the  Royalist  armies,  and 
.£1,000  appears  to  have  been  wrung  from  merchants  and 
traders  who  had  been  supporters  of  the  Parliament.  But 
when  the  King  demanded  £1,500  more  in  February,  1645, 
the  city  was  so  utterly  exhausted  that  the  authorities 
refused  to  take  action.  Nevertheless,  when  the  Prince  of 
Wales  arrived  in  March,  a  gift  of  £500  was  subscribed  for 
presentation  to  him,  and  £400  were  raised  for  the  garrison. 
His  Royal  Highness  next  "propounded"  to  the  Aldermen 
—nearly  all  members  of  the  Society — his  desire  for  a 
"loan"  of  £400,  and  though  he  met  with  no  response,  it 
was  resolved  to  collect  £200  from  the  "  abls  inhabitants  " 
towards  his  housekeeping  expenses.  The  Royal  cause 
was  then  hastening  to  ruin.  Prince  Rupert's  last  demand 
upon  the  civic  body,  made  when  the  second  siege  of 
Bristol  was  on  the  eve  of  success,  was  for  £800  in  lieu  of 
free  quarters  for  his  newly-arrived  troops. 

A  few  days  later  the  town  was  in  the  hands  of  Fairfax 
and  Cromwell,  and  on  October  2nd  the  Corporation  voted 
£5,000  as  a  "gratuity"  to  the  "  Roundhead  "  army,  and 


raised  the  gift  to  .£6,000  two  days  later,  a  vote  for  the 
increased  sum  being  supported  by  Colonel  Thomas 
Colston,  a  member  of  the  Society  who  had  distinguished 
himself  by  his  zeal  for  the  Royal  cause,  and  by  his  con- 
struction of  a  redoubt  on  Kingsdown  called  Colston  Fort. 
As  the  depletion  of  the  citizens'  pockets  was  complete, 
and  the  town  was  being  scourged  with  a  terrible  visitation 
of  Plague,  it  is  not  surprising  to  find  that  three  months 
elapsed  before  the  whole  of  the  money  was  forthcoming. 
In  the  meantime,  the  conduct  during  the  Royalist  occu- 
pation of  leading  members  of  the  Corporation — nearly  all 
members  of  the  Society — had  been  represented  to  Parlia- 
ment, and  on  October  28th  the  two  Houses  passed  an 
Ordinance  requiring  the  ejection  from  the  magistracy 
and  Common  Council  of  the  Mayor  (Francis  Creswick), 
Aldermen  Hooke,  Long,  Wallis,  James  and  Thomas 
Colston,  and  Councillors  Fitzherbert,  Henry  Creswick, 
William  Colston,  Cale,  Bevan,  Gregson,  and  Elbridge. 
In  1646  some  of  those  gentlemen  were  required  to  com- 
pound for  their  "  delinquency."  Richard  Long,  a  stanch 
Royalist  (twice  Master),  seems  to  have  been  the  severest 
sufferer,  being  fined  £800,  or  one-tenth  of  his  estate. 
Alexander  James  (Master,  1642)  was  mulcted  in  ^670. 
Humphry  Hooke  was  at  first  ordered  to  pay  ^800,  but 
he  avowed  his  conversion  to  Puritanism.  Cromwell  also 
certified  that  he  had  done  a  great  service  secretly  just 
before  Rupert's  surrender,  whereupon  he  escaped. 
Thomas  Colston  and  William  Bevan  petitioned  for 
favourable  treatment,  having  conformed  to  Parliament, 
and  no  fines  are  recorded  against  them.  John  Bowcher, 
doubtless  a  brother  of  the  luckless  George,  was  let  off 
for  £i 35.  In  several  other  cases  the  existing  documents 
fail  to  give  the  result. 

In  times  so  disordered  the  occurrence  of  arbitrary  acts 


of  a  comparatively  trifling  character  seems  to  have  been 
regarded  with  indifference.  On  May  2Oth,  1645,  the 
Society  resolved  that  as  the  city  quays  were  in  much 
need  of  repair,  and  as  the  Hall,  being  heavily  indebted, 
was  unable  to  bear  the  charge,  the  wharfage  dues  should 
be  doubled,  and  a  tax  of  fourpence  per  ton  levied  on 
every  vessel  entering  the  port  until  all  engagements  were 
cleared  off.  Similarly,  on  October  I4th,  1654,  the 
Society  resolved  to  build  a  new  quay  "from  the 
Lower  Slip  to  Aldworth's  Key"  [Thunderbolt  Street], 
and  the  Master  and  a  committee  were  appointed  to 
impose  dues  upon  all  imported  good's  towards  the 
erection  of  the  new  works.  It  is  obvious  that  those 
impositions  were  wholly  unwarrantable,  for,  as  regarded 
the  wharfage  dues,  the  Society  were  simply  collecting 
them  by  permission  of  the  Corporation  "during  pleasure," 
according  to  a  schedule  ordained  by  the  Common 
Council ;  while  the  latter  body  could  alone  assume 
the  right  of  placing  a  new  impost  on  merchandise. 
Nevertheless,  the  doubled  wharfage  dues  were  certainly 
enforced,  for  the  Society  on  one  occasion  ordered  them 
to  be  reduced  "one-fourth."  The  tax  on  imported 
goods  probably  aroused  resistance,  as  nothing  was  done 
towards  the  extension  of  the  quay  for  seven  years. 
On  April  nth,  1661,  the  Hall  again  resolved  "that 
from  henceforth  all  persons  shall  pay  double  wharfage 
until  the  charges  of  procuring  the  Charter  [see  p.  107], 
and  building  the  Key,  and  making  the  way  to  the  Hot 
Well  shall  be  raised."  The  dubious  legality  of  this 
resolution  appears  to  have  led  to  a  negotiation  with 
the  Corporation,  but  only  the  result  has  been  preserved. 
On  September  28th,  1661,  a  lease,  of  which  the  following 
is  an  abbreviated  copy,  was  duly  executed  under  the 
common  seal  of  the  civic  body  : — 


The  Mayor  and  Commonalty  to  the  Society  of  Merchants. 
Whereas  the  Society  has  undertaken  at  its  own  charge,  before  the 
2oth  September  next,  to  enlarge  and  make  a  new  Key,  from  the 
Lower  Slip  of  the  Key  to  a  place  in  the  Marsh  called  Aldworth's 
Dock,  in  such  form  as  the  said  Key  now  is,  and  also,  at  its  own 
cost,  to  make  a  convenient  way  for  coach  or  horse,  by  land,  from 
Rownham  Passage  to  the  Hot  Well,  towards  which  work  the 
Corporation  will  pay  ^100.  And  whereas  the  Back  and  Key, 
being  the  usual  places  for  the  shipping,  lading  and  discharge  of 
all  goods  .  .  .  cannot  be  repaired  and  maintained  without 
very  great  charge,  which  is  necessary  to  be  raised  and  levied  of 
and  upon  such  goods  &c.  as  shall  be  shipped,  laden  and  discharged 
into  or  out  of  any  ship  .  .  .  which  said  dues  and  duties 
of  wharfage  the  said  Merchants  .  .  .  have  covenanted  and 
agreed  to  collect.  It  is  witnessed  that  the  Corporation,  in  con- 
sideration of  the  intended  works  and  repairs,  and  of  a  surrender 
of  a  lease  of  the  duties  of  anchorage,  kannage  and  plankage 
[see  p.  62]  of  which  several  years  are  unexpired,  and  of  the 
authority  formerly  given  for  collection  of  the  duty  of  wharfage, 
have  demised  the  said  duties,  including  the  dues  hitherto  collected 
by  the  Chamberlain,  from  the  date  of  this  indenture  till  the  end 
of  eighty  years.  Rent  £-$  6*.  8d. 

The  only  "due"  previously  "collected  by  the  Cham- 
berlain "  was  a  sum  of  £8  a  year  received  from  a  man 
who  rented  one  or  two  cranes  on  the  quays.  As  a  further 
proof  of  the  influence  of  the  Society  in  the  Corporation, 
it  may  be  noted  that  the  assent  of  the  Common  Council 
to  the  above  concession  of  the  wharfage  dues  for  eighty 
years  appears  to  have  been  coolly  dispensed  with. 

To  avoid  repeated  references  to  this  subject,  it  may  be 
added  that  in  1690,  when  fifty-one  years  of  the  above  lease 
were  unexpired,  the  Corporation  accepted  its  surrender,  and 
granted  a  fresh  demise  for  eighty  years,  in  consideration 
of  ,(200,  at  a  rent  of  £6  6s.  8d.  The  new  lease  recited, 
as  a  further  consideration,  that  the  Society  had  at  great 
cost  procured  the  assent  of  the  Crown  to  the  inclusion,  in 
the  free  quays  of  the  port,  of  the  quay  recently  made  by 
them  near  Aldworth's  Dock,  and  had  also  undertaken  to 


make  another  new  quay  462  feet  long,  from  that  dock  to 
Hobbs's  yard  in  the  Marsh,  and  to  build  one  or  more 
cranes  thereon.  Permission  was  also  granted  to  remove  a 
Market-house  and  other  buildings  near  Aldworth's  Dock, 
in  order  to  widen  the  quay.  In  September,  1712,  when  this 
lease  had  run  only  twenty-two  years,  another  bargain  was 
made  between  the  two  bodies,  whereby  the  Corporation, 
in  consideration  of  the  Society  consenting  to  give  up  a 
rope-walk  in  the  Marsh,  which  obstructed  the  street  im- 
provements then  proceeding  in  that  locality,  granted  a 
fresh  lease  of  the  wharfage  and  anchorage  dues  for  a  term 
of  eighty  years  at  the  former  rent.  The  next,  and  final, 
lease,  executed  in  1764,  will  be  referred  to  in  the  next 

Amongst  the  incidents  of  the  second  civil  war  that 
broke  out  in  1648,  the  equipment  of  Royalist  privateers 
in  Ireland  to  prey  upon  English  commerce  caused  great 
local  alarm.  On  September  3rd  the  Society  drew  up  a 
petition  to  the  Parliament  Committee  for  the  Navy,  from 
which  it  appears  that  a  previous  appeal  had  been  made 
for  the  loan  of  a  frigate  for  the  protection  of  the  Bristol 
Channel  against  the  "  Irish  rebels,"  the  Society  under- 
taking to  man  and  provision  the  ship,  and  that  the 
request  had  been  granted.  The  Society  now  state  that 
since  the  former  application  "  several  vessels  of  great 
value  of  this  port  have  been  taken  by  the  Irish,  to 
the  disabling  of  merchants  who  intended  to  contribute 
towards  the  furnishing  of  the  frigate";  and  as  information 
had  been  received  that  twenty-six  sail  of  ships  and  frigates 
at  Wexford  were  preparing  "  to  interrupt  our  ships  from 
Newfoundland  and  the  Vintages,"  the  Society  "  pray  that 
our  sad  condition  may  be  represented  to  the  House  of 
Commons,  and  assistance  afforded."  In  forwarding  this 
appeal  to  Alderman  Hodges,  M.P.,  and  begging  for  his 


support,  the  writers  state  that  four  of  the  Parliament's 
frigates  had  been  lying  in  the  Avon  some  time,  "  and  may 
linger  longer  if  money  be  not  sent  to  pay  the  discontented 
crews,  while  the  enemy  is  taking  ships  almost  out  of 
our  very  Road."  Increased  activity  of  the  Navy  on  the 
Irish  coast  seems  to  have  brought  the  grievance  to  an  end. 

In  February,  1650,  the  Society  received  a  communica- 
tion from  the  East  India  Company  of  London,  offering 
to  accept  "  a  sum  of  money"  from  the  Hall  "  to  put  into 
the  joint  stock  to  trade  with  India."  The  proposal 
was  looked  upon  with  some  suspicion.  Rumours  were 
current,  and  were  not  unfounded,  that  the  monopolists 
were  suffering  under  financial  embarrassments,  and  the 
Company's  stock  had  fallen  greatly  below  par.  The  offer 
was  therefore  courteously  declined. 

The  growing  reputation  of  the  Hot  Well  amongst 
upper-class  invalids  attracted  the  attention  of  the  Hall 
soon  after  the  Restoration,  and  contributed  to  bring  about 
one  of  the  most  important  events  in  the  history  of  the 
Society,  the  purchase  of  the  manor  of  Clifton.  In  April, 
1661  (Sir)  John  Knight,  M.P.  (Master,  1663),  was  "desired 
to  treat  with  the  Lords  of  the  Hot  Well  touching  the 
purchasing  of  the  said  well,  and  the  waste  ground  about 
it,  at  a  certain  yearly  rent,  for  1000  years."  This  negotia- 
tion was  fruitless;  but  the  Society's  interest  in  the  subject 
continued,  and  in  July,  1676,  it  succeeded  in  acquiring 
three-fourths  of  the  manor  of  Clifton  from  the  executor 
of  a  defunct  owner,  and  the  remaining  fourth  was  after- 
wards picked  up  in  fragments.  Another  and  much  smaller 
manor  in  the  parish,  once  the  property  of  the  Dean  and 
College  of  Westbury-on-Trym,  and  subsequently  captured, 
like  St.  Clement's  Chapel,  by  Sir  Ralph  Sadleir,  was 
obtained,  also  piecemeal,  by  a  trifling  outlay  in  1686. 
At  that  period  the  population  of  the  parish  can  hardly 


have  exceeded  300,  most  of  whom  were  labourers 
inhabiting  cottages  along  the  riverside.  Around  the 
church  were  a  manor  house  *  (to  which  a  wine  license  had 
been  granted  in  1632),  one  or  perhaps  two  upper-class 
dwellings,  and  a  few  labourers'  hovels.  All  the  rest  of 
the  area  was  partly  common  land  and  partly  cultivated 
ground  divided  into  about  a  dozen  little  farms.  Even 
the  manufacture  of  lime,  for  which  the  locality  afterwards 
became  famous,  had  scarcely  begun ;  and  the  enormous 
cliffs,  of  which  some  acres  disappeared  in  the  eighteenth 
century,  then  frowned  directly  over  the  Avon.  Scarcely 
anything,  in  fact,  differentiated  the  parish  from  secluded 
villages  in  purely  agricultural  districts.  As  to  the  Hot 
Well,  it  is  difficult  to  account  for  the  undoubted  fact  that 
it  had  long  attracted  wealthy  invalids  from  distant  places, 
a  sojourn  of  the  Earl  of  Pembroke  being  recorded  in  1599. 
The  spring  lay  exposed  on  the  bank  of  the  river,  and, 
being  below  high-water  mark  and  surrounded  with  deep 
mud,  must  have  been  difficult  of  approach ;  there  were 
no  lodgings  for  visitors  nearer  than  College  Green ;  and 
until  1662  (see  p.  165)  the  carriage  road  from  Bristol 
ended  at  Rownham  Ferry.  After  the  visit  to  the  Spa  of 
Queen  Catherine  in  1677,  however,  the  place  became 
greatly  more  frequented,  and  in  1683  two  men  applied 
to  the  Society  for  leave  to  hold  the  spring,  doubtless  to 
make  the  approach  accessible,  and  were  permitted  to  rent 
it  for  the  modest  sum  of  ten  shillings  per  annum,  "  during 
pleasure,"  a  sum  increased  to  405.  four  years  later.  In 
1691  a  wall  was  built  around  the  spring  for  the  purpose  of 
barring  out  the  tidal  water  and  facilitating  access,  but  the 
results  were  disappointing.  At  length,  early  in  1695, 

*  The  following  minute  is  believed  to  refer  to  this  mansion: — "Sept.  17,  1700. 
Ordered  that  on  payment  of  a  fine  of  ^49,  a  lease  for  five  lives  be  granted  to 
Whitchurch  Phippen  of  the  site  or  ruins  of  the  great  house  at  Clifton,  heretofore 
burnt  down,  and  since  called  the  Old  Castle  .  .  .  late  in  the  holding  of 
Mary  Hodges.  Rent  ics.  Heriot  IDS.  Lessee  to  expend  ^350  in  building." 


Sir  Thomas  Day,  Robert  Yate  (twice  Master),  and  a  few 
other  public-spirited  Bristolians  entered  into  negotiations 
with  the  Society,  who,  on  April  4th,  granted  to  two  of 
the  confederacy,  Charles  Jones,  soapmaker,  and  Thomas 
Callowhill,  draper,  a  lease  of  the  well,  and  the  rocks  and 
land  adjoining,  for  a  term  of  ninety  years  at  a  rent  of  £5, 
reserving  to  all  persons  a  convenient  passage  down  to  the 
spring,  and  liberty  to  take  the  water  without  payment. 
The  lessees  covenanted  to  expend  £500  within  three  years 
in  erecting  a  Pump  Room  and  convenient  lodging-houses^ 
also  to  make  walks  for  sheltering  and  entertaining  visitors, 
to  leave  ways  for  coaches  and  horses  to  pass  to  Durdham 
Down,  and  to  refrain  from  throwing  rock  into  the  river. 
The  immense  success  of  this  enterprise  is  sufficiently  told 
by  the  annalists  of  the  following  century. 

During  the  Commonwealth  the  ancient  civic  ordi- 
nances forbidding  "foreigners,"  meaning  non-freemen, 
to  carry  on  trade  or  commerce  had  been  suspended, 
several  old  soldiers  having,  by  the  Protector's  orders, 
been  allowed  to  engage  in  business.  The  old  system 
was  revived,  however,  soon  after  the  Restoration.  In 
November,  1662,  the  Society  appointed  a  man,  at  a  yearly 
salary  of  £10,  "  to  search  out  those  who  shall  buy  and 
sell  strangers'  goods  contrary  to  the  privileges  of  the  city,, 
and  to  inform  the  Sheriffs  of  his  proceedings,  to  the  end 
that  such  goods  may  be  seized  as  foreign  bought  and 
foreign  sold."  The  civic  officials  having  shown  laxity  in 
fulfilling  their  duties,  the  Society  urgently  prayed  the 
Common  Council  to  remedy  the  evil,  and  the  latter  body 
in  February,  1667,  took  vigorous  action.  A  ship  belong- 
ing to  strangers  (probably  Londoners)  had  arrived  with  a 
cargo  of  sugar  and  molasses,  and  the  goods,  instead  of 
being  removed  to  the  Back  Hall,  as  prescribed  by  the 
Ordinances,  were  sold  by  a  London  man,  and  put  on 


board  a  vessel  bound  for  Swansea.  The  aldermanic 
justices  thereupon  decided  that  the  merchandise  was 
"  foreign  bought  and  foreign  sold,"  and  ordered  the 
Sheriffs  to  seize  the  cargo,  undertaking  to  defend  them 
at  the  expense  of  the  city  if  an  action  were  brought 
against  them.  Later  in  the  year,  a  freeman  was  detected 
in  "colouring"  (dealing  in)  strangers'  goods,  whereupon 
his  shop  was  "shut  down,"  and  the  bellman  was  ordered  to 
proclaim  his  iniquity  up  and  down  the  streets;  but  his  dis- 
franchisement  was  removed  on  payment  of  a  fine  of  ^15. 

Many  other  cases  of  a  similar  character  are  recorded 
in  the  corporate  minute  books  down  to  1680,  when  the 
zeal  of  the  officials  happened  to  outrun  discretion.  A 
parcel  of  hops  valued  at  £ij  was  seized  on  the  usual 
ground,  but  the  owner  proved  that  he  was  a  free-burgess 
and  that  the  transaction  was  legitimate.  The  Corporation 
nevertheless  retained  the  goods  for  three  years,  by  which 
time  the  hops  were  spoilt  by  damp,  when  the  owner 
demanded  their  full  value,  and  threatened  an  action  at 
law.  No  defence  being  possible,  the  money  was  paid ; 
the  Chamberlain  "was  feign  to  sell"  the  seized  merchan- 
dise for  ^2  15.;  and  raiding  upon  strangers  was  quietly 
dropped  until  1696,  when,  moved  by  the  second  Sir  John 
Knight's*  vehement  invectives  against  "  foreigners,"  the 
old  Ordinances  were  revived.  In  the  last  year  of  the 
century,  a  number  of  intruders  were  offered  the  alterna- 

*  Many  inaccurate  statements  in  reference  to  the  two  Sir  John  Knights  have 
appeared  in  local  works.  In  1676,  and  for  a  few  subsequent  years,  there  were  four 
John  Knights  on  the  Society's  roll  of  members.  The  senior  of  these  men  was  John, 
younger  son  of  George  Knight  (Mayor,  1639).  He  was  admitted  by  right  of  appren- 
ticeship in  1639,  became  Mayor  and  M.P.,  and  was  knighted  in  1663,  in  which  year 
he  was  elected  Master.  His  son  John  was  admitted  by  right  of  birth,  and  was 
distinguished  as  "esquire"  after  his  father  had  acquired  a  title.  Sir  John  died 
in  1683,  and  his  son  in  1684.  John  Knight,  sugar  baker  (often  styled  "junior"), 
owner  and  occupier  of  the  Great  House,  afterwards  Colston's  School,  was  a  grandson 
of  Francis  Knight  (Mayor,  1594  and  1613),  and  was  admitted  as  a  redemptioner  in 
1650  on  payment  of  £5.  He  was  elected  Master  in  1666,  and  Mayor  in  1670,  and  died 
in  1679.  His  son  John,  who  was  admitted  by  right  of  birth,  was  Warden,  and  also 
Sheriff,  in  1681-2,  was  knighted  in  1682  for  his  vindictive  persecution  of  Dissenters, 
and  was  subsequently  Mayor  and  M.P.  He  died  in  1718. 


tive  of  paying  a  fine  for  admission  to  the  freedom  or  of 
having  their  premises  "  shut  down,"  when  upwards  of 
^160  was  wrung  from  the  victims,  a  merchant  being 
mulcted  in  ^35.  This  was  the  last  effort  made  to 
maintain  the  old  custom.  In  1703,  when  all  the  civic 
Ordinances  underwent  revision,  those  levelled  at  strangers 
were  significantly  ordered  "to  be  left  out." 

In  the  time  of  James  the  First,  the  Society,  like  their 
sovereign,  had  an  antipathy  to  tobacco,  and  their  deputy, 
Mr.  Guy,  M.P.,  gravely  informed  the  Privy  Council  in 
1621  that  one  of  the  causes  of  the  existing  dearth  of  coin 
was  "the  extraordinary  importation  and  use"  of  the 
baneful  plant,  which,  according  to  the  Wiltshire  antiquary, 
Aubrey,  then  sold  by  retail  for  its  weight  in  silver.  Mr. 
Guy's  statement  must  have  seemed  extraordinary  to  the 
merchants  of  the  next  generation,  when  many  members 
of  the  Society  had  established  a  large  and  lucrative  tobacco 
trade  with  Virginia.  (Pipes  and  tobacco  had  then  become 
established  institutions  at  the  Council  House,  and  although 
in  1722  smoking  in  the  Hall  was  forbidden  "during 
business,"  that  limited  interdiction  was  rescinded  so  late 
as  1788.) 

The  Society,  however,  for  obvious  reasons,  were 
strongly  opposed  to  the  cultivation  of  the  plant  in 
England,  which,  although  contrary  to  law,  became 
common  during  the  Commonwealth,  especially  in 
Gloucestershire,  but  was  again  forbidden  by  an  Act  of 
the  first  Parliament  of  Charles  the  Second.  In  February, 
1662,  the  Society  petitioned  the  King  to  enforce  the 
statute,  and  ordered  a  charge  of  35.  per  hogshead  on 
Virginia  tobacco  to  be  exclusively  applied  to  the 
suppression  of  the  domestic  industry.  This  fund  proving 
insufficient,  upwards  of  ^300  was  subscribed  in  the  Hall 
to  pursue  the  destruction  of  the  plantations  in  the 


neighbouring  districts.  Sir  Humphry  Hooke,  grandson 
of  the  merchant  of  the  same  name,  was  then  Sheriff  of 
Gloucestershire,  and  the  money  was  confided  to  his  under- 
sheriff,  but  the  results  were  so  unsatisfactory  that  the 
Society  afterwards  requested  Sir  Humphry  to  render  an 
account  of  the  expenditure.  In  March,  1666,  the  Privy 
Council,  in  a  letter  to  the  Lord  Lieutenant,  stated  that, 
from  information  received,  the  extent  of  land  then  under 
tobacco  culture  in  Gloucestershire  was  greater  than  in 
any  previous  year ;  and  other  documents  in  the  Record 
Office  assert  that  there  were  many  hundred  offenders, 
whose  proceedings  were  winked  at  by  the  gentry,  and  even 
by  the  county  justices,  as  half  the  profits  were  claimed  by 
those  worthies  in  the  shape  of  rent.  The  militia  were  some- 
times summoned,  and  were  assisted  by  troops  of  cavalry 
in  destroying  the  plantations  ;  but  the  cultivation  con- 
tinued for  many  years.  So  late  as  1692,  according  to  a 
petition  to  the  House  of  Commons,  1,300  roods  of  land 
under  tobacco  had  been  discovered  near  Bristol,  and 
several  prominent  citizens  were  said  to  be  concerned  in 
this  enormity.  Home  culture  was  shortly  afterwards 
suppressed  by  the  superior  machinery  of  the  Revolution 

As  Sir  Humphry  Hooke,  of  Kingsweston,  has  just 
been  mentioned,  it  may  be  stated  that  in  November, 
1668,  the  Society  voted  him  £5  towards  repairing  "the 
compasse  upon  Pen  Pole  Hill ;  the  rest  to  be  made 
good  at  his  charge."  This  ancient  structure,  the  object 
of  which  has  puzzled  many  antiquaries,  still  occupies 
its  original  position. 

The  first  mention  of  an  entertainment  to  a  dis- 
tinguished visitor  occurs  in  the  Society's  account  books 
in  1673,  when  a  banquet  to  the  Marquis  of  Worcester, 
Lord  Lieutenant,  including  gunpowder  and  cannon-firing, 


cost  upwards  of  £go.  Another  entertainment  to  the 
same  nobleman  was  given  in  1681,  but  the  outlay  was 
only  £18  45.  In  September,  1682,  the  Marquis,  who 
a  few  weeks  later  was  created  Duke  of  Beaufort,  again 
arrived  in  the  city,  ostensibly  to  review  the  militia,  but 
really  to  manipulate  the  Common  Council  in  the  interests 
of  the  Government ;  and  his  command  on  behalf  of 
the  Crown  for  the  election  of  a  "trustworthy"  mayor 
was  immediately  obeyed.  His  lordship,  together  with 
his  son,  Lord  Herbert,  was  "treated  to  a  collation"  by 
the  Society  on  his  arrival,  at  a  cost  of  £22  iSs.  The 
Duke's  treatment  of  the  city  during  the  reign  of  James 
the  Second  was  not  conducive  to  further  courtesies  of 
this  character. 

The  violent  political  troubles  of  the  period  were 
marked  in  the  Society's  records  by  the  expulsion  of  a 
member — the  only  case  known.  The  person  so  dealt 
with  was  John  Rowe,  the  civic  Swordbearer,  who  was 
disfranchised  in  October,  1683,  for  his  suspected  com- 
plicity in  the  "  Rye  House  Plot." 

The  record  of  the  death,  on  November  21,  1681, 
of  William  Colston  suggests  a  few  remarks  respecting 
a  family  identified  with  the  commerce  of  Bristol  for 
several  centuries,  and  whose  name  is  destined  to  be 
held  in  honour  so  long  as  Bristol  exists.  The  statement 
in  Garrard's  Life  of  Edward  Colston  that  the  family 
came  to  the  city  about  1400  is  inaccurate.  The  name 
occurs  three-quarters  of  a  century  earlier  in  deeds  relating 
to  property  in  Redcliff  Street,  and  one  Thomas  Colston 
had  attained  such  a  standing  in  the  Common  Council 
as  to  be  appointed  one  of  the  Bailiffs  (Treasurers)  in  1387. 
The  Colstons  suffered  much  during  the  Civil  War  for 
their  adherence  to  the  Royal  cause,  and  William,  its  head 
in  1660,  obtained  some  acknowledgment,  as  has  been 


already  stated,  by  the  appointment,  in  reversion,  of  his 
youthful  son,  Richard,  as  Consul  at  Marseilles.  The 
office  did  not  become  vacant  for  several  years,  and 
Richard,  in  the  meantime,  settled  at  Cadiz.  Another 
son,  named  after  his  father,  resided  at  Lisbon,  where 
he  was  murdered  by  an  Englishman  in  1675.  (Privy 
Council  Minutes.)  Both  of  those  sons  doubtless  acted 
as  agents  for  their  father,  who,  as  the  Society's  Wharfage 
Books  show,  was  one  of  the  largest  importers  of  wine 
and  oil  from  the  Peninsula,  besides  trading  extensively 
in  Levant  fruit.  None  of  his  numerous  sons  are 
mentioned  in  the  Society's  books  until  the  year  of 
his  death,  when  Thomas,  then  aged  41,  returned  to 
Bristol,  apparently  to  manage  his  sick  father's  business ; 
but  he  was  not  admitted  into  the  Society  until  June,  1682. 
In  little  more  than  two  years,  Thomas  followed  his 
father  to  the  grave,  and  his  death  led  to  the  reappearance 
in  the  city  of  his  brother  Edward,  who,  so  far  as  can  be 
discovered,  had  been  absent  for  more  than  forty  years. 
Much  of  the  early  life  of  this  remarkable  man  remains 
a  mystery.  That  he  received  his  education  in  London 
is  known  on  his  own  authority.  But  it  is  strange  that 
he  should  not  have  been  apprenticed  until  he  was  within 
a  week  of  attaining  his  eighteenth  year  (27th  October, 
1654,  to  Humfrey  Allington,  a  London  mercer),  that 
he  should  have  served  a  term  of  eight  years,  and  that 
he  should  not  have  applied  for  admission  into  the 
London  Mercers'  Company  until  1673,  when  he  was 
nearly  37  years  of  age.  (Books,  Mercers'  Company.) 
On  returning  to  his  native  city,  he  was  admitted  into 
the  Society  on  December  I7th,  1683,  by  right  of  birth; 
but  he  appears  to  have  only  twice  attended  a  Hall, 
there  being  on  other  occasions  a  note  attached  to  his 
name  in  the  roll  of  members: — "at  London,"  or  "lives 


at  London."  For  a  few  years  he  imported  cargoes 
here  in  the  ships  that  had  been  freighted,  or  probably 
owned,  by  his  father  and  brother — the  Fortune  and  the 
Zante.  On  one  occasion  the  former  brought  in  a  cargo 
of  4,500  pantiles,  but  the  imports  were  generally  wine, 
oil,  and  raisins,  as  before.  In  December,  1686,  he  had 
a  dispute  with  the  wharfage  collector.  His  father,  like 
all  other  importers  of  the  period,  had  paid  a  due  on  oil 
of  is.  2,d.  per  ton.  But  the  collector  noted  as  follows : — 

1686  December  22.       Edward  Colston,  in  Fortune. 

24  ton  shumack i6s- 

14  tons  ^  of  oyle,  for  which  he  would  pay  but  8d.  per 
ton,  which  I  acquainted  the  Master  with,  &  when  the  hall 
meates  the  sd  Mr.  Colston  is  to  reconsile  it  with  them  ...  gs.  8d. 

The  minutes  are  silent  on  the  subject,  and  Mr.  Colston 
does  not  appear  to  have  objected  to  the  charge  again. 
His  importations  were  not  large  in  the  two  following 
years,  and  were  then  discontinued.  As  is  well  known,  he 
levied  a  distress  upon  the  Corporation  in  1687  for  the 
recovery  of  a  loan  of  £2,000 ;  and  he  was  doubtless  much 
discontented  with  the  corporate  revolution  ordered  by 
James  the  Second  in  the  following  year,  when  many 
prominent  Tory  Churchmen  were  ejected  and  replaced 
by  Dissenters.  He  soon  afterwards  relinquished  business 
and  retired  to  Mortlake,  and  his  visits  to  Bristol  were 
thenceforth  few  and  brief,  the  earliest  clearly  recorded 
being  in  1700,  when  his  mother's  long  life  was  near  its 
close.  His  conveyance,  in  1696,  to  the  Society,  as 
trustees,  of  his  newly-erected  almshouse  on  St.  Michael's 
Hill  will  be  referred  to  in  Chapter  VI.  In  the  same  year, 
the  philanthropist,  Sir  Thomas  Day,  and  two  other  persons 
were  joint  owners  of  the  fine  mansion  in  St.  Peter's 
Churchyard,  occupied  as  a  sugar  refinery;  but  whether  he 
had  continued  a  partner  in  the  business  to  that  time  is 

176         THE    SOCIETY    UNDER   THE    STEWART    DYNASTY. 

a  matter  of  conjecture.  The  house  was  at  that  date 
converted  into  a  mint,  and,  after  the  extensive  coinage 
operations  had  been  completed,  it  was  acquired  by  the 
newly-founded  Corporation  of  the  Poor.  Mr.  Colston 
attended  two  meetings  of  that  body  in  the  autumn  of 
1700,  and  made  a  donation  of  £100  (afterwards  doubled) 
towards  clearing  off  its  liabilities.  The  story  of  his  great 
School,  in  which  his  confidence  in  the  Society  is  so 
remarkably  exemplified,  will  be  dealt  with  hereafter. 

It  is  not  a  little  strange  that  scarcely  an  allusion  to 
the  Society's  Almshouse  occurs  in  the  records  from  the 
reign  of  Elizabeth  until  the  announcement  was  made  of 
Mr.  Colston's  benefaction  in  1695.  In  tendering  the 
thanks  of  the  Hall  for  that  liberal  offer,  the  Master 
(Samuel  Price)  informed  the  donor  that  the  executors  of 
Mr.  Richard  Jones  (of  Stowey,  Somerset)  had  resolved 
"to  follow  your  good  example."  A  deed  in  the  Hall 
shows  that  the  executors  paid  in  ^1,000  in  the  following 
year,  on  the  Society  covenanting  to  build  rooms  for  six 
additional  almsfolk,  and  Mr.  Colston's  gift  of  land  was 
doubtless  estimated  as  of  similar  value.  To  enlarge  the 
site,  the  Corporation,  in  June,  1696,  granted  to  the 
Society  that  portion  of  the  old  Town  Wall  lying 
immediately  behind  the  Hall  and  Almshouse,  140  feet 
in  length,  and  the  work  of  entirely  reconstructing  the 
latter  being  forthwith  begun,  was  completed  in  1699, 
when  the  members  of  the  Society  entered  into  a 
subscription  to  assist  in  defraying  the  outlay  incurred, 
which  included  the  purchase  of  a  small  house,  costing 
£100.  The  amount  raised  was  ^619.  On  March  7th, 
1700,  the  weekly  stipend  of  the  almswomen  was  increased 
from  15.  6d.  to  25.,  and  seven  additional  inmates  were 
admitted  on  the  same  day  "into  the  new  Almshouse 
of  the  old  establishment." 



AFTER  the  accession  of  William  the  Third,  the  chief 
interest  of  the  Society's  minute  books  in  a  historical 
point  of  view  rests  on  the  illustrations  they  offer  of  the 
working  of  the  "Mercantile  System,"  on  which,  for 
many  subsequent  generations,  in  spite  of  the  teaching 
of  Adam  Smith,  the  prosperity  of  the  country  was 
generally  imagined  to  depend.  In  dealing  with  questions 
affected  by  this  system,  however,  the  Society,  with  a 
lively  regard  for  local  interests,  occasionally  advocated 
views  which  thorough-going  disciples  of  the  theory 
condemned  as  heterodox.  The  most  progressive  ideas 
of  the  age  of  William  the  Third  were  set  forth  in  the 
first  work  ever  printed  at  a  permanent  Bristol  press — 
"  An  Essay  on  the  State  of  England  in  relation  to  its 
Trade," — written  in  1695  by  a  distinguished  member 
of  the  Society,  John  Gary  (Warden,  1683),  the  promoter 
of  the  Incorporation  of  the  Poor.  Mr.  Gary,  like  all 
his  contemporaries,  was  of  opinion  that,  if  we  bought 
more  from  another  nation  than  we  sold  to  it,  we  were 
acting  like  a  man  living  on  his  capital,  and  that 
the  prosperity  of  the  country  was  best  furthered  by 
''protecting"  home  industries  from  the  competition  of 
foreigners,  and  by  compelling  the  colonies  to  traffic 
solely  with  the  mother  country.  The  trade  of  Ireland, 
he  maintained,  was  destructive  to  English  interests, 
which  could  be  safeguarded  only  by  reducing  the  sister 
island  to  the  status  of  a  Crown  colony,  prohibiting  the 


178  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

competition  of  Irish  cloth  in  the  home  and  foreign 
markets,  stopping  the  exportation  of  Irish  wool  to  the 
Continent,  and  forbidding  the  importation  into  Ireland 
of  any  foreign  or  colonial  produce  except  what  was 
purchased  and  shipped  from  England — a  policy  which 
Parliament  soon  after  adopted  and  carried  into  effect 
with  deplorable  results.  Turning  from  Ireland  to  Africa, 
and  more  especially  to  the  traffic  in  slaves,  the  author 
became  enthusiastic,  declaring  that  trade  to  be  "  of  the 
most  advantage  to  this  Kingdom  of  any  we  drive, 
and  as  it  were  all  profit ;  the  first  cost  being  little 
more  than  small  matters  of  our  own  manufactures,  for 
which  we  have  in  return  gold,  [elephants']  teeth,  wax, 
and  negroes,  the  last  whereof  is  much  better  than  the 
first,  being  indeed  the  best  traffic  the  Kingdom  hath." 
On  the  other  hand,  Mr.  Gary  advocated  the  stimulating 
of  domestic  manufactures  by  freeing  raw  materials  from 
Customs'  duties,  and  by  abolishing  the  Excise  duties 
on  glass  and  other  articles — grievances  that  were  not 
totally  abolished  until  about  150  years  after  his  death. 
He  also  strongly  deprecated  the  trading  monopolies  that 
were  then  greatly  cherished  by  London  merchants, 
pleading  for  the  concession  of  free  commerce  with 
China,  India,  Africa,  and  in  short  with  all  countries. 
And  he  even  urged  the  free  admission  into  this  country 
of  Irish  meat  and  butter,  a  proposal  then  regarded  as 
monstrous  by  the  English  landed  interest.  Though 
the  writer's  views  on  the  whole  were  far  in  advance  of 
the  time,  the  following  pages  will  show  that  they  were 
practically  adopted  by  the  Society. 

In  1696  an  attempt  was  made  by  an  influential 
clique  in  London,  styled  the  Royal  African  Company, 
to  obtain  a  revival  by  Act  of  Parliament  of  a  monopoly 
of  trade  with  Africa,  granted  to  them  by  Charles  the 


Second  in  1674,  but  abolished  by  the  Bill  of  Rights 
at  the  Revolution.  The  Merchant  Venturers  of  Bristol, 
justly  indignant  at  the  violation  of  their  chartered  rights, 
had  carried  on  a  surreptitious  traffic  between  the  west 
coast  of  Africa  and  the  English  plantations  in  America 
even  whilst  the  monopoly  was  in  existence ;  and  as,  on 
its  abrogation  in  1689,  this  branch  of  local  commerce 
developed  by  leaps  and  bounds,  the  manoeuvres  of  the 
Londoners  to  recover  their  former  privilege  naturally 
aroused  a  vigorous  opposition.  In  a  petition  of  the 
local  mercantile  body  to  the  House  of  Commons,  it 
was  asserted  that  the  prosperity  of  the  West  India 
planters  depended  upon  a  plentiful  supply  of  negroes 
(the  annual  shipment  of  the  African  Company  had 
been  limited  to  3,000  slaves),  and  that  the  deficiency 
could  be  provided  only  by  private  enterprise.  The 
clothiers  and  weavers  of  the  city,  in  another  petition, 
expatiated  on  the  importance  of  their  exports  to  the 
Slave  Coast — which  in  fact  were  insignificant — and 
predicted  disastrous  consequences  if  that  market  were 
closed.  Similar  appeals  were  made  by  other  ports, 
and  the  West  India  interest  in  Parliament  was  naturally 
in  favour  of  a  free  trade  in  slaves.  After  a  struggle 
at  Westminster,  an  Act  was  passed  in  1698,  leaving 
the  trade  entirely  open,  but  requiring  non-members  of 
the  Company  to  contribute  towards  the  maintenance 
of  the  fortified  stations  on  the  African  coast. 

A  fresh  impetus  was  thus  given  to  profitable  branches 
of  local  commerce,  and  the  African  fleet  belonging  to 
Bristol  increased  in  about  ten  years  to  sixty  vessels.  (In 
a  local  pamphlet  published  about  1750,  a  copy  of  which 
is  in  the  British  Museum,  the  writer  states  with  much 
complacency  that  in  the  first  nine  years  of  open  trade  the 
merchants  of  Bristol  and  Liverpool  despatched  no  less  than 

l8o  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

160,950  negroes  to  the  English  plantations.)  Enraged 
at  the  ever-increasing  competition,  the  African  Company 
opened  another  legislative  campaign  in  1705,  with  the 
object  of  driving  their  rivals  from  the  field ;  and  though 
the  Society,  in  conjunction  with  the  Corporation,  were 
successful  in  defeating  the  attack,  the  conflict  was  renewed 
by  the  Londoners  year  after  year,  entailing  a  heavy 
expenditure  on  the  Hall  and  the  Common  Council  in  the 
defence  of  local  rights.  In  a  petition  to  the  House  of 
Commons  in  1713,  whilst  the  struggle  was  still  raging,  the 
Corporation  contended  that  the  subsistence  of  Bristolians 
chiefly  depended  on  this  trade,  which  gave  employment 
to  great  numbers  of  seamen,  shipwrights,  weavers,  metal 
workers,  and  other  artisans,  a  large  part  of  whose  manu- 
factures were  exchanged  for  negroes ;  whilst  a  similar 
petition  from  the  Society  affirmed  that  many  of  their 
ships  were  suitable  only  for  the  African  trade,  and  that 
they  would  be  ruined  by  exclusion  from  it.  After  three 
more  defeats  in  successive  Sessions,  the  would-be 
monopolists  temporarily  quitted  the  field.  But  in  1720 
their  demands  were  revived,  and  strenuously  advocated 
by  their  allies,  the  South  Sea  Company,  then  at  the 
summit  of  a  scandalous  career ;  and  a  large  outlay  was 
incurred  in  Bristol  in  baffling  this  formidable  attack. 

In  1725  the  African  Company  renewed  the  offensive 
on  their  own  account,  offering  the  Government  a  loan  of 
a  million  sterling  if  their  monopoly  were  restored ;  and 
though  the  temptation  was  rejected,  the  claimants  pressed 
their  case  energetically,  but  vainly,  in  six  succeeding 
Sessions  of  Parliament.  A  long  truce  then  ensued,  during 
which  the  activity  of  Bristol  enterprise  made  much  further 
progress,  though  as  the  trade  was  solely  in  the  hands  of 
individual  merchants  or  firms,  scarcely  any  reference  to  it 
occurs  in  the  books  of  the  Society.  In  one  of  the  deed 


boxes  in  the  Hall,  however,  is  a  bundle  of  loose  papers 
throwing  a  strange  light  on  the  proceedings  of  some 
captains  in  the  Royal  Navy  commanding  ships  of  war 
stationed  on  the  African  coast.  It  appears  from  these 
documents,  which  are  chiefly  affidavits  of  the  masters 
and  sailors  of  Bristol  slave  ships,  that  in  the  year  1737, 
whilst  the  deponents  were  trying  to  procure  cargoes  on 
that  coast,  the  officers  and  crews  of  three  royal  vessels, 
the  Diamond,  Greenwich,  and  Spence,  lying  there  ostensibly 
for  the  protection  of  trade,  were  actively  engaged  in  the 
purchase  of  negroes,  gold  dust,  and  elephants'  teeth,  each 
of  the  ships  being  provided  for  trafficking  with  large  stores 
of  cotton  goods,  spirituous  liquors,  gunpowder,  and  other 
merchandise,  which  were  offered  considerably  below  the 
usual  prices,  while  ^32  per  head  were  given  for  slaves,  or 
£4.  above  the  ordinary  rate.  In  consequence  of  this 
competition  the  merchant  captains  were  unable  to  obtain 
cargoes  except  at  an  outlay  involving  their  employers  in 
heavy  loss.  One  affidavit  states  that  the  Greenwich  sailed 
for  Barbadoes  with  200  negroes,  and  another  that  the 
Spence,  a  small  war  sloop,  carried  off  between  fifty  and 
sixty  more.  The  disclosures  caused  much  excitement  in 
mercantile  circles,  and  the  Society  co-operated  with  their 
friends  at  Liverpool  in  forwarding  a  strong  remonstrance 
to  the  Admiralty,  which  apparently  succeeded  in  its 

Returning  to  the  African  Company,  it  appears  that  in 
1747  the  Londoners,  after  making  a  fruitless  attempt  to 
induce  the  Bristol  firms  to  enter  into  their  Company,  began 
another  determined  effort  in  Parliament  to  secure  the  trade 
exclusively  for  themselves.  The  chief  argument  advanced 
for  a  policy  of  .undisguised  selfishness  was  that  traffic  on 
the  Slave  Coast  could  not  be  protected  against  foreigners 
unless  a  large  number  of  additional  forts  were  built  and 

1 82  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

garrisoned ;  that  the  Government  grant  for  that  purpose 
(^"10,000  a  year)  was  wholly  inadequate ;  and  that  the 
charge  could  be  sustained  only  by  a  Company  enjoying 
exclusive  privileges.  The  truth  was  that  the  Company 
was  in  a  state  of  great  financial  embarrassment,  and  was 
unable  to  raise  fresh  capital  whilst  the  trade  remained 
open.  The  Corporation  of  Bristol  and  the  Society  lost 
no  time  in  defending  local  interests.  The  Common 
Council,  in  a  petition  to  the  House  of  Commons,  alleged 
that  the  trade  from  this  port  to  the  West  Indies  and 
America  by  way  of  Africa  was  "the  principal  and  most 
considerable  branch  belonging  to  the  city,  and  that  since 
such  trade  has  been  free  and  open  it  has  greatly  increased, 
and  his  Majesty's  plantations  thereby  much  better  supplied 
with  negroes,  and  larger  quantities  of  the  manufactures  of 
this  kingdom  exported." 

Defeated  in  the  Sessions  of  1747  and  1748,  the  African 
Company  became  convinced  of  the  hopelessness  of  their 
policy,  and  the  Bill  they  promoted  in  1749  was  based  on 
the  principle  of  an  open  trade.  From  some  cause  this 
measure  failed  to  pass,  and  the  Society  drew  up  a  number 
of  amendments  in  anticipation  of  its  re-introduction  in 
the  following  year,  the  most  important  of  these  proposals 
being  that  trading  by  joint-stock  should  be  abolished,  and 
that  a  new  Company  should  be  formed,  the  management 
of  which  should  be  vested  in  a  committee  of  nine  members, 
to  be  appointed  in  three  equal  parts  by  the  merchants  of 
London,  Bristol,  and  Liverpool  respectively,  Parliament 
granting  a  sufficient  yearly  sum  for  the  maintenance  of 
the  forts.  These  propositions  were  approved  by  the 
merchants  of  Liverpool,  and  though  obstinately  resisted 
for  a  time  in  London  were  eventually  inserted  in  a  new 
Bill,  which  received  the  Royal  Assent  in  1750,  thus 
terminating  a  costly  struggle  for  free  trade  waged  for 


nearly  three-quarters  of  a  century.  (The  Corporation 
and  the  Society,  who  were  the  promoters  of  the  Bill, 
spent  upwards  of  .£1,000  in  carrying  it  through  the 
Legislature,  but  about  half  the  outlay  was  afterwards 
refunded  by  the  new  Company  and  the  Liverpool 

The  preamble  of  the  Act  recited  that  the  African 
trade,  being  "  very  advantageous,  and  necessary  for 
supplying  the  Plantations  with  a  sufficient  number  of 
negroes  at  reasonable  rates,  ought  for  that  reason  to 
be  free  and  open  to  all  his  Majesty's  subjects."  The 
Royal  Company  was  therefore  dissolved,  and  the  forts 
and  stations  were  vested  in  a  new  corporation  styled  the 
Company  of  Merchants  trading  to  Africa,  admission  to 
which  was  open  to  all  merchants  on  the  payment  of  £2 
each.  This  was  the  only  capital  possessed  by  the  new 
concern,  and  the  payments  thus  made  throw  some  light 
on  the  extent  of  the  trade  in  the  three  leading  ports.  A 
list  of  members  was  drawn  up  yearly  previous  to  the 
election  of  the  committee  men,  and  the  roll  printed  in 
Bristol  in  June,  1755,  gives  the  names  of  all  entitled  to 
vote.  At  that  date  237  members  resided  in  this  city, 
147  in  London,  and  89  in  Liverpool.  The  number  of 
merchants  who  continued  to  trade  without  entering  the 
Company  cannot  be  ascertained,  but  was  probably  incon- 
siderable. Schemes  for  upsetting  the  new  organisation, 
and  procuring  a  joint-stock  monopoly  from  Parliament, 
were  started  by  London  merchants  in  1779  and  1791,  but 
were  defeated  without  much  trouble. 

Another  subject  occasioning  much  debate  in  relation 
to  the  Slave  Trade  arose  out  of  the  frequent  Acts  passed 
by  the  Colonial  legislatures  imposing  a  poll  duty  on  the 
negroes  imported  into  the  plantations.  The  first  State 
which  adopted  a  measure  of  this  character  was  Virginia, 

184  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

in  1724,  and  the  example  was  soon  afterwards  followed 
by  the  Assemblies  of  Jamaica  and  South  Carolina,  to 
the  great  irritation  of  English  merchants.  The  appeals 
of  the  Society  and  other  bodies  to  the  Government  to 
rescind  the  imposts  were  at  first  successful,  but  the  Colonial 
authorities  persisted  in  their  claim  to  fix  local  taxation, 
which  was  eventually  sanctioned.  In  1775,  Mr.  Burke, 
then  M.P.  for  Bristol,  apprised  the  Master  by  letter 
that  the  Assembly  of  Jamaica  (where  the  import  tax 
was  already  considerable)  had  just  imposed  "  a  very 
great  duty"  on  negroes  brought  to  the  island  above 
30  years  of  age ;  whereupon  a  strong  protest  against 
the  Act  was  addressed  to  the  Government ;  but  the 
result  is  not  recorded. 

In  times  of  scarcity  the  Ministry  were  accustomed 
to  forbid  the  exportation  of  English  corn,  which  in  normal 
seasons  was  encouraged  by  a  bounty,  and  was  long  an 
important  branch  of  commerce.  When  an  embargo  on 
shipments  was  ordered  in  1762,  the  officers  of  Customs 
held  that  it  extended  to  vessels  bound  for  Africa  contain- 
ing stocks  of  pease  and  beans — the  only  food  given  to 
slaves  during  transportation — and  the  Society,  declaring 
that  this  would  cause  "  a  great  stagnation  of  trade," 
besides  being  "a  great  hardship  to  ships  carrying  corn 
to  Ireland,"  made  urgent  applications  to  the  Treasury  for 
relief.  Similarly,  on  the  revolt  of  the  American  colonies 
in  1774,  the  export  of  arms  and  ammunition  was  for- 
bidden, upon  which  the  Society  represented  to  the  Board 
of  Trade  that  the  prohibition  would  be  calamitous  to 
traffic  on  the  Slave  Coast,  and  prayed  for  its  exemption. 

All  these  difficulties  sank  into  insignificance,  however, 
in  1788,  when,  upon  some  revolting  disclosures  being 
made  respecting  the  treatment  of  slaves  during  their 
passage  across  the  Atlantic,  a  Bill  was  brought  into 


Parliament  to  prevent  overcrowding  and  other  cruelties. 
The  average  number  of  human  beings  yearly  torn  from 
their  homes  had  then  reached  the  appalling  total  of 
about  74,000;  and  Sir  John  Picton,  in  his  History  of 
Liverpool,  states  that  that  town  alone  was  making  ^300,000 
per  annum  by  the  traffic.  The  measure  was  resolutely 
opposed  by  the  merchants  and  shipowners  whom  it 
affected,  who  were  heard  by  counsel  in  Parliament ;  and 
evidence  against  it  was  given  by  a  number  of  witnesses, 
including  several  despatched  by  the  Society.  Mr.  Brick- 
dale,  M.P.  for  Bristol,  seconded  the  motion  for  the 
rejection  of  the  Bill,  but,  after  a  protracted  conflict,  the 
measure  became  law. 

The  prolonged  debates  on  the  above  measure  had 
served  merely  to  intensify  public  feeling,  and  an  agitation 
speedily  arose  for  the  total  abolition  of  the  trade.  The  first 
provincial  committee  formed  to  promote  this  object  was 
instituted  in  Bristol  in  1788,  Mr.  Joseph  Harford  (Master, 
1796)  being  chairman ;  and  this  body,  in  conjunction  with 
kindred  organisations,  made  preparations  for  bringing 
the  subject  before  Parliament  in  the  following  year.  The 
Society  thereupon  invited  all  local  merchants  interested 
in  the  trade  to  co-operate  in  resisting  the  attack,  and  on 
April  1 3th,  1789,  at  a  crowded  meeting  in  the  Hall, 
Mr.  William  Miles  presiding,  an  influential  committee 
was  appointed  to  defend  the  traffic,  "on  which  the 
welfare  of  the  West  India  islands  and  the  commerce  and 
revenue  of  the  kingdom  so  essentially  depend."  Amongst 
the  members  of  this  committee  were  Alderman  Daubeny 
(Master,  1784),  Alderman  Brice  (Master,  1786),  Alderman 
Miles  (Warden,  1789),  Sir  James  Laroche  (Master,  1782), 
John  Gordon  (Master,  1804),  Richard  Bright  (Master, 
1792),  John  Fisher  Weare  (Warden,  1778),  Richard 
Vaughan  (Master,  1809),  Samuel  Span  (Master,  1777), 

1 86  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

Robert  Bush,  Thomas  Daniel,  Evan  Baillie,  Robert 
Claxton,  John  Pinney,  Philip  Protheroe,  John  Cave,  and 
many  other  leading  members  of  the  Corporation.  The 
views  of  this  body  were  shortly  afterwards  enunciated  in 
the  House  of  Commons  by  Mr.  Cruger,  M.P.,  who 
contended  that,  if  the  traffic  were  to  be  abolished,  which 
he  strongly  deprecated,  compensation  to  the  extent  of 
about  seventy  millions  sterling  should  be  awarded  to  the 
injured  merchants.  A  resolution  advocating  the  sup- 
pression of  the  traffic  was  withdrawn,  owing  to  the 
overwhelming  majority  prepared  to  reject  it ;  but  the 
regulating  Act  of  the  previous  Session  was  renewed  and 
made  more  efficient,  the  Society  vainly  petitioning  against 
its  restrictions.  The  trade  was  not  abolished  until  nearly 
twenty  years  afterwards,  but  the  number  of  Bristol  ships 
rapidly  declined  at  an  early  period,  and  the  conduct  of 
the  ship  captains  who  continued  to  frequent  the  slaving 
ports  had  a  powerful  influence  in  rendering  the  commerce 
unpopular.  In  1791,  whilst  Lord  Sheffield,  M.P.  for 
Bristol,  was  denying  the  right  of  Parliament  to  suppress 
the  traffic,  six  English  ships  —  of  which  three,  the 
Thomas,  the  Wasp  and  the  Recovery,  belonged  to  Bristol 
— bombarded  the  town  of  Calabar  for  several  hours,  to 
compel  the  native  slavedealers  to  sell  at  the  price  fixed 
by  the  captains,  a  great  many  innocent  blacks  being 
killed  and  wounded  during  the  cannonade.  In  denouncing 
this  outrage  in  the  House  of  Commons,  Mr.  Wilberforce 
stated  that  the  facts  were  perfectly  known  in  Bristol  and 
Liverpool,  where  the  act  of  the  captains  was  deemed 
so  meritorious  that  they  had  been  furnished  with  new 

With  regard  to  the  West  India  products  brought  to 
England  by  the  slave  ships  in  their  triangular  voyages, 
it  is  somewhat  edifying  to  find  that  the  recent  policy  of 


continental  nations  in  reference  to  bounties  on  exported 
sugar  was  once  in  high  favour  amongst  ourselves.  In 
1733  the  Society  cordially  approved  of  certain  proposals 
made  by  the  merchants  of  London,  the  most  important 
of  which  were  that  a  bounty  should  be  paid  by  the 
Government  on  every  ton  of  British  plantation  sugar 
exported  to  other  countries,  that  an  additional  bounty 
of  £2,  per  ton  should  be  payable  on  all  refined  sugar 
shipped  in  the  same  way,  and  that  British  plantation 
rum  should  be  admitted  for  home  consumption  at  a 
lower  duty  than  that  imposed  on  foreign  spirits.  The 
Government  acceded  to  the  request  for  a  further  bounty 
on  refined  sugar  exported,  so  that  it  could  be  purchased 
abroad  at  a  lower  price  than  was  charged  in  England ; 
French  brandies  were  taxed  at  a  much  higher  rate  than 
was  levied  on  West  India  rum ;  and  the  whole  of  the 
duty  on  raw  sugar  was  remitted  to  exporters  to  the 
Continent,  again  placing  foreigners  in  a  better  position 
than  home  consumers. 

In  1739  the  West  India  planters  sought  Parliamentary 
permission  to  export  their  sugar  direct  to  foreign  ports, 
but  the  request  was  condemned  as  highly  injurious  by 
the  Society,  who  sent  a  deputation  to  Westminster  to 
organise  resistance,  and  its  efforts  were  successful.  In 
1759  the  Society  appealed  to  Parliament  for  an  increase 
of  the  bounty  on  refined  sugar  with  a  view  to  paralyse 
foreign  competition.  War  then  absorbing  all  the  resources 
of  the  State,  the  prayer  was  unheeded;  but  in  1765, 
when  the  import  duty  on  raw  sugar  was  £6  6s.  per  ton, 
the  bounty  on  exported  refined  sugar  was  raised  to 
£14.  IQS.  per  ton.  Nevertheless,  in  1766,  the  Bristol 
sugar  refiners  informed  the  Society  that  if  the  manu- 
factures of  their  foreign  rivals  were  admitted  for  domestic 
consumption  they  would  be  utterly  ruined,  and  the  Hall 

1 88  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

at  once  petitioned  Parliament  to  entirely  prohibit  such 
imports,  and  to  levy  a  duty  of  £12  per  ton  on  foreign 
raw  sugar.  The  bounty  system  reached  its  highest 
point  in  1781,  when  the  export  boon  to  English  refiners, 
who  still  paid  only  £6  6s.  per  ton  duty  on  the  raw 
material,  was  increased  to  £26  per  ton,  or  nearly  three- 
pence per  pound.  This  bounty  was  still  in  force  when 
Rees's  Encyclopedia  was  published  in  1819 ;  but  the 
duty  on  raw  sugar  had  then  been  largely  increased. 

Early  in  the  reign  of  George  the  Second  the 
merchants  of  Bristol,  like  those  of  other  ports,  raised 
a  loud  clamour  against  Walpole's  Administration  for 
what  was  styled  its  weakness  and  timidity  in  tolerating 
Spanish  "  depredations "  on  English  shipping.  The 
facts  bearing  on  the  matter  now  seem  very  simple. 
English  merchants  of  that  time  vehemently  contended 
that  trade  with  our  colonies  should  be  exclusively 
reserved  to  themselves,  and  that  smuggling  there  by 
foreigners  could  not  be  too  rigorously  punished.  But 
the  adoption  of  an  identical  policy  by  Spain  was 
regarded  as  a  monstrous  infraction  of  British  rights. 
An  enormous  clandestine  traffic  with  the  Spanish  colonies 
was  carried  on  by  Bristolians  and  Londoners,  and  when 
their  ships  and  cargoes  were  confiscated  by  the  Spanish 
war-cruisers  guarding  the  islands,  as  was  frequently  the 
case,  the  owners  denounced  the  Government  at  home 
for  submitting  to  such  "  outrages,"  and  Walpole's 
opponents  in  the  House  of  Commons  of  course  were 
delighted  to  re-echo  their  cries.  In  1731  the  merchants 
of  Bristol  .forwarded  a  petition  to  Westminster,  com- 
plaining of  the  harassing  interruptions  to  trade  and 
heavy  losses  to  which  they  were  subjected ;  and  the 
Society  paid  the  expenses  of  a  number  of  witnesses 
who  gave  evidence  before  the  Commons  in  support  of 


the  allegations.  The  Government  promised  to  procure 
satisfaction,  but  the  tu  quoque  defence  of  Spain  was  in 
fact  unanswerable. 

The  subject  temporarily  dropt  out  of  sight  in  1733, 
when  Walpole,  alleging  that,  through  smuggling  and 
frauds  in  the  Customs'  system,  not  one-seventh  of  the 
produce  of  the  tobacco  duty  reached  the  Exchequer, 
proposed  to  place  the  trade  under  Excise  supervision. 
The  Bill  aroused  an  unparalleled  tempest  of  indignation 
in  mercantile  circles ;  the  Society  sent  a  deputation  up 
to  London  to  co-operate  in  the  opposition ;  the  Minister, 
deserted  by  the  representatives  of  sea-port  boroughs,  was 
compelled  to  withdraw  the  scheme ;  and  his  defeat  was 
hailed  in  Bristol  with  exuberant  rejoicings. 

Returning  to  the  Spanish  grievance,  it  appears  that 
the  profits  of  the  illicit  traffic  so  much  exceeded  its 
losses  as  to  encourage  its  development,  while  the 
exasperated  demands  for  war  by  those  who  suffered 
won  sympathy  from  a  nation  weary  of  the  monotony 
of  a  long  and  prosperous  peace.  In  1739,  while  the 
Society  were  co-operating  heartily  with  the  London 
merchants  in  besieging  Parliament  for  satisfaction,  the 
country  was  roused  to  madness  by  the  story  of  a 
knavish  ship  captain,  named  Jenkins,  respecting  the 
alleged  loss  of  an  ear  through  Spanish  barbarity.  And 
in  the  following  Session  the  Hall  sent  up  to  the 
Commons  a  narrative  of  the  sufferings  of  the  captain 
of  the  Bristol  ship  Sarah,  belonging  to  Mr.  Richard 
Farr  (Warden,  1748)  and  others,  which  vessel  with  its 
cargo,  to  the  value  of  £9,000,  had  been  captured  and 
confiscated  by  the  Spaniards  for  having  on  board  a 
smuggled  "stick  of  logwood."  War  was  proclaimed 
in  October,  1739,  amidst  great  demonstrations  of  joy ; 
but  Walpole's  prediction  that  bell-ringing  would  be 

1 9O  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

followed  by  hand-wringing  proved  only  too  accurate. 
The  Hall's  expenses  in  the  above  agitation  amounted 
to  ^495,  and  £81  were  spent  in  defeating  the  Excise 

In  some  directions  the  Society  manifested  free  trade 
proclivities.  Though  their  attempts  to  break  down  the 
monopoly  of  the  East  India  Company  were  always 
fruitless,  they  succeeded  in  maintaining  an  open  trade 
with  the  Turkish  dominions  and  the  Levant,  defeated 
various  efforts  made  in  London  to  obtain  abnormal 
privileges  for  that  port,  and  agitated  for  the  imposition 
of  a  low  duty  on  foreign  corn  in  seasons  of  scarcity. 
The  Hall  also  disapproved  of  the  import  duties  levied 
at  American  ports  in  1764,  condemned  the  Stamp  Tax 
imposed  on  the  colonists  in  the  following  year,  and 
conferred  the  freedom  of  the  Society  on  the  Marquis 
of  Rockingham  and  his  colleagues,  who  carried  the 
Act  which  annulled  that  memorable  blunder.  But 
their  estimate  of  colonial  rights  in  regard  to  trade  and 
industry  was  of  a  narrower  character.  In  1750,  when 
iron  was  extremely  dear  (in  1728  the  Society  paid  £32 
per  ton  for  wrought-iron  moorings  at  Hungroad),  a 
proposal  that  American  raw  iron  should  be  allowed  to 
enter  this  country  met  with  much  local  support,  and 
the  Corporation  and  the  Hall  disbursed  about  ^350 
each  in  obtaining  legislative  sanction  to  such  importa- 
tions. But  the  statute  provided,  at  the  request  of  its 
promoters,  that  not  only  should  no  wrought  iron  be 
admitted  from  the  colonies,  but  that  the  settlers  should 
be  prohibited  from  forging  it  for  use  amongst  themselves. 
In  1766,  some  merchants  in  London  favoured  a  scheme 
for  permitting  the  colonists  to  export  sugar  direct  to  the 
Continent,  but  the  Society  peremptorily  rejected  the 
proposal.  Not  only,  they  contended,  should  such  sugar 


be  continued  to  be  landed  in  England,  to  prevent  the 
"oversetting"  of  English  refiners,  but  the  ships  conveying 
it  should  be  compelled  to  call  at  an  English  port  on 
their  return  voyages,  in  order  to  stop  the  illicit  purchases 
that  the  Americans  were  making  of  continental  manu- 
facturers "to  the  total  ruin"  of  British  industries.  As 
a  further  security,  the  Hall  declared  that  if  foreign  raw 
materials  were  allowed,  as  was  proposed,  to  enter 
Dominica  free  from  duty,  the  import  of  foreign  manu- 
factures must  be  rigorously  prohibited,  "  to  protect  the 
home  producer  from  injury." 

In  1773,  on  the  eve  of  the  great  disruption,  the  Society 
petitioned  the  House  of  Commons  to  reject  a  Bill 
authorising  a  Mr.  Quincy  to  manufacture  steel  in  one  of 
the  American  Colonies  for  exportation  to  England.  The 
harsh  policy  of  the  Government,  or  rather  of  the  King, 
induced  the  Hall  for  a  time  to  support  a  policy  of  con- 
ciliation, then  being  eloquently  advocated  by  Mr.  Burke, 
the  city's  distinguished  representative  ;  but  in  1777  the 
Society  had  become  a  convert  to  coercion,  which  was 
manifested  by  sending  a  congratulatory  address  to  the 
King  on  the  success  of  his  arms,  by  rejecting  by  a  large 
majority  a  motion  advocating  a  conciliatory  policy,  and 
by  presenting  the  freedom  of  the  Society  to  the  Prime 
Minister,  Lord  North,  and  his  leading  colleagues  in  token 
of  approbation  and  sympathy. 

The  Colonies  being  regarded  chiefly  as  profitable 
outlets  for  the  English  manufactures  that  enjoyed  a 
monopoly  in  their  markets,  whilst  their  claim  to  manage 
their  own  affairs  was  almost  always  resented,  it  is  not 
surprising  that  Ireland  should  have  been  considered  by 
many  English  merchants  as  a  dangerous  foreign  rival 
rather  than  as  a  portion  of  the  Empire.  Strange  as  it 
now  appears,  the  Irish  were  prohibited  from  importing 


foreign  commodities  and  from  exporting  the  produce  of 
their  own  country,  unless  the  goods  were  first  landed  in 
England  to  secure  a  profit  for  English  shippers.  In  some 
branches  of  manufacture,  notably  cloth,  glass,  soap,  and 
candles,  Irish  exportations  were  absolutely  forbidden,  in 
order  that  they  might  not  compete  with  English  industries. 
In  1703  the  Irish  Parliament  petitioned  Queen  Anne  that 
the  linens  of  the  country  might  be  sent  direct  to  the 
Colonies,  instead  of  being  forwarded  to  England  for  trans- 
shipment, whereupon  the  Society  directed  the  members 
of  Parliament  for  Bristol  to  vigorously  resist  a  proposal 
that  "  would  be  very  prejudicial  to  the  nation,  but 
particularly  to  this  city."  In  1731  the  Irish  prayed  that 
sugar  might  be  allowed  to  enter  their  ports  direct  from 
the  plantations,  but  the  Society  was  on  the  alert,  and  the 
appeal,  like  its  forerunner,  was  rejected.  In  1733  the 
Hall,  in  conjunction  with  the  West  India  merchants  of 
London,  petitioned  Parliament  to  prohibit  the  importation 
of  foreign  sugar  into  Ireland  under  any  conditions  what- 
soever. In  1750  a  Bill  passed  the  House  of  Commons 
permitting  the  entry  into  Yarmouth  of  Irish  coarse  cloth 
and  woollen  yarn,  whereupon  the  Society  petitioned  the 
Upper  House  to  reject  a  measure  which  "would  be  greatly 
disadvantageous  to  this  kingdom."  In  1765  the  Irish 
Parliament  proposed  to  follow  the  English  example  by 
imposing  taxes  on  imported  manufactures,  for  the 
"protection"  of  domestic  industries,  but  the  scheme  was 
denounced  by  the  Society  as  a  manifest  design  "  to 
encourage  the  culture  and  manufactures  of  Ireland," 
which  was  clearly  deemed  outrageous,  and  Mr.  Nugent, 
M.P.  (an  Irishman),  was  desired  to  oppose  it  "with  all 
his  might." 

The  only  favour  that  local  merchants  were  disposed 
to  concede  to  the  sister  island  was  a  relaxation,  in  times 


of  scarcity,  of  the  laws  passed  by  the  English  landed 
interest  prohibiting  Irish  meat  and  butter  from  entering 
this  country.  These  laws  were  rigorously  enforced  in 
ordinary  seasons,  and  smuggling,  which  was  very  profit- 
able owing  to  the  low  prices  prevailing  in  Ireland,  was 
punished  by  the  confiscation  and  sale  (for  export)  of  the 
provisions — one-half  of  the  proceeds  in  Bristol  being 
distributed  amongst  the  poor  of  St.  Stephen's  parish, 
where  the  seizures  were  generally  made.  Irish  butter, 
however,  was  needed  in  the  manufacture  of  baize,  then 
an  important  local  industry ;  and  the  Society  applied  to 
the  Government  for  leave  to  import  butter  that  had 
previously  been  made  uneatable  by  the  admixture  of 

At  a  later  date,  the  hopeless  condition  of  American 
affairs,  and  the  urgent  need  of  allaying  Irish  discontent, 
brought  about  a  change  in  the  sentiments  of  the  House 
of  Commons.  In  April,  1778,  Earl  Nugent,  the  former 
member  for  Bristol,  introduced  resolutions,  with  the 
approval  of  the  Government,  dealing  with  the  laws  regu- 
lating Irish  trade  and  commerce ;  the  chief  concessions 
being  that  Irish  goods  (cloth  still  excepted)  might  be 
exported  direct  to  the  colonies,  that  colonial  products, 
except  tobacco  and  indigo,  might  be  sent  to  Ireland  direct, 
and  that  the  export  to  foreign  countries  of  Irish  glass 
ware,  and  to  England  of  cotton  yarn,  should  no  longer  be 
forbidden.  The  resolutions  were  favourably  received  by 
the  House,  and  were  especially  applauded  by  Mr.  Burke. 
On  the  other  hand,  the  indignation  of  English  merchants, 
manufacturers,  and  tradesmen  was  even  more  furious 
than  that  aroused  by  Walpole's  Excise  scheme,  and 
nowhere  did  the  storm  rage  more  fiercely  than  at  Bristol. 
The  Society,  like  the  Corporation,  resolved  that  the  grant 
to  Ireland  of  freedom  of  trade  with  the  colonies  would  be 


"  destructive  to  that  great  system  of  commerce,  manu- 
factures, and  revenue  hitherto  successfully  pursued." 
Deputations  were  sent  up  to  London  to  organise  resist- 
ance in  the  lobby  of  St.  Stephen's ;  and  a  circular  letter 
was  forwarded  from  the  Hall  to  every  city  and  borough  in 
the  kingdom,  appealing  for  active  co-operation  in  defeating 
so  "calamitous"  a  policy.  Lord  North  characteristically 
bent  before  the  tempest.  All  the  vital  concessions  were 
gradually  withdrawn,  and  before  the  end  of  the  Session 
scarcely  a  vestige  was  left  of  the  scheme  save  some  clauses 
favouring  Irish  linens. 

Early  in  1779  a  fresh  agitation  was  provoked  by  the 
introduction  of  a  Bill  permitting  the  Irish  to  import  their 
own  sugar,  and  Lord  North  delighted  local  merchants 
by  procuring  its  rejection.  But  in  a  few  months  the 
easy-going  Premier  found  himself  beset  with  perils  on 
every  hand.  Two  West  India  islands  had  been  lost,  and 
others  were  in  danger ;  the  French  were  masters  of  the 
English  Channel ;  American  privateers  were  threatening 
the  northern  ports ;  and  the  Irish,  with  an  army  of 
100,000  volunteers,  showed  a  determination  to  follow  the 
example  of  the  revolted  colonies  unless  their  grievances 
were  redressed.  At  a  Hall  held  on  December  2ist,  letters 
were  read  from  the  city  members  reporting  Lord  North's 
humiliating  surrender.  The  Irish  were  to  be  free  to  trade, 
not  only  with  the  colonies  and  plantations,  but  with  foreign 
nations,  on  the  same  terms  as  Englishmen ;  the  restrictions 
on  their  glass  trade  were  to  be  abolished ;  and,  hardest 
sacrifice  of  all,  their  woollen  manufactures  were  to  be 
freed  from  all  restraints.  The  Society,  like  the  Premier, 
submitted  to  the  inevitable.  It  was  resolved  that  no 
exception  could  be  taken  to  the  Minister's  propositions, 
and  the  Bill  to  carry  them  out  was  practically  unopposed. 

A  few  days  after  Lord  Nugent's  resolutions  had  been 


laid  before  the  House  of  Commons  in  1778,  Mr.  Burke 
sent  a  copy  of  them  to  the  Master,  in  a  letter  warmly 
advocating  their  approval  by  the  Society ;  and  followed 
this  up,  a  month  later,  by  an  argumentative  reply  to  the 
remonstrance  addressed  to  him  by  the  Master  (the  latter 
has  unfortunately  perished).  The  great  statesman's 
defence  of  the  policy  he  adopted  seems  to  be  well  worthy 
of  preservation  in  these  pages,  and  is  given  below 
in  extenso.  That  it  was  wholly  ineffectual  in  allaying  the 
wrath  of  the  mercantile  community  is  proved  by  the  pro- 
ceedings of  the  Society,  briefly  recorded  above,  of  which, 
as  Mr.  John  Noble,  the  leader  of  the  local  Whigs,  assured 
Burke,  every  Bristol  merchant  approved.  The  unpopu- 
larity and  enforced  retirement  of  Mr.  Burke,  at  the 
election  for  Bristol  two  years  later,  may  be  safely 
attributed  to  his  resistance  to  local  sentiments  on  this 
burning  question. 

Mr.  Burke  to  the  Master  [Samuel  Span]. 

April  9,  1778.  I  have  the  honour  to  transmit  copies  of  some 
resolutions  reported  from  the  Committee  [of  the  House  of  Commons] 
on  the  trade  of  Ireland.  They  have  been  supported  by  Adminis- 
tration and  by  several  independent  members.  It  is  found  absolutely 
necessary  to  improve  the  portion  of  this  Empire  which  is  left,  so  as 
to  enable  every  part  to  contribute  in  some  degree  to  the  strength 
and  welfare  of  the  whole.  Our  late  misfortunes  have  taught  us  the 
danger  and  mischief  of  a  restrictive,  coercive,  and  partial  policy. 
The  trade  in  some  degree  opened  by  the  resolutions  is  necessary, 
not  so  much  for  any  benefit  thereby  derived  to  Ireland,  as  to  satisfy 
and  unite  the  minds  of  men  at  this  juncture  by  the  sense  of  a 
common  interest  in  the  common  defence.  If  nothing  of  this  kind 
should  be  done  I  apprehend  very  serious  consequences.  Ireland 
may  probably  in  some  future  time  come  to  participate  of  the  benefits 
which  we  derive  from  the  West  India  trade.  But  Ireland,  being  a 
country  of  the  same  nature  with  this,  can  never  be  beneficial  to 
this  kingdom  but  by  pursuing  several,  if  not  all,  of  the  objects  of 
commerce  and  manufacture  which  are  cultivated  here.  The  world, 
I  apprehend,  is  large  enough  for  us  all,  and  we  are  not  to  conclude 

ig6  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

that  what  is  gained  to  one  part  is  lost,  of  course,  to  the  other.  The 
prosperity  arising  from  an  enlarged  and  liberal  system  improves  all 
its  objects,  and  the  participation  of  a  trade  with  flourishing  countries 
is  much  better  than  the  monopoly  of  want  and  penury.  These 
opinions,  I  am  satisfied,  will  be  relished  by  the  clear  understandings 
of  the  merchants  of  Bristol,  who  will  discern  that  a  great  Empire 
cannot  at  this  time  be  supported  upon  a  narrow  and  restrictive 
scheme  either  of  commerce  or  government.  I  have  the  honour  to 
be,  with  great  esteem  and  regard,  &c. 

The   Same   to   the   Same. 

May  12,  1778.  I  am  honoured  with  your  answer  to  the  letter 
which  I  wrote  in  explanation  of  my  conduct  on  the  commercial 
regulations  now  before  the  House.  You  may  be  assured  that  nothing 
could  give  me  a  more  sincere  pleasure  than  to  obey  the  commands 
of  the  Society  when  I  am  not  morally  certain  that  I  should  do 
them  a  serious  injury  by  my  compliance  with  their  wishes.  No 
pains  have  been  omitted  to  make  an  amicable  adjustment  of  a 
business  whose  very  principle  is  the  concord  of  the  British  dominions. 
The  gentlemen  of  Ireland  who  attend  to  the  matter  have  been  found 
very  moderate  and  practicable,  and  have  given  up  some  points  for 
the  present  which  in  justice  ought  to  have  been  granted  to  them. 

As  to  those  Members  of  the  British  Parliament  whom  you  speak 
of  as  advocates  for  the  Bills  and  as  interested  persons,  who  have 
nothing  in  view  but  the  improvement  of  their  extensive  estates  in 
Ireland,  I  really  do  not  directly  know  to  whom  you  allude.  Many 
Members  of  Parliament  have  considerable  estates  in  Ireland;  but 
whether  the  enlargement  of  these  be  their  motive  for  the  vote  they 
give  is  more  than  I  can  tell ;  nor  am  I  very  solicitous  to  know ;  as 
it  is  much  more  easy  for  me,  and  much  more  my  business,  to  judge 
of  the  arguments  they  use  than  of  the  motives  on  which  they  act. 
As  to  the  rest,  I  take  it  that  the  interest  which  a  party  has  in  a 
cause,  though  it  disables  him  to  be  a  witness,  does  not  at  all  lessen 
the  favour  with  which  he  ought  to  be  heard  as  an  advocate.  The 
desire  of  improving  one's  private  fortune  by  the  general  improvement 
of  a  country  I  have  always  considered  as  praiseworthy  rather  than 
blamable ;  and  in  particular  I  cannot  comprehend  how  the  wish  of 
increasing  an  Irish  fortune,  the  whole  product  of  which  is  spent 
in  England,  can  be  objected  to  by  any  of  the  people  of  this  kingdom. 
But  indeed,  Sir,  the  greatest  part  of  the  great  Majority  of  last 
Thursday  have  their  whole  fortunes  in  Great  Britain,  for  whose 
sake,  primarily,  it  is  that  they  wish  to  remove  the  injurious  restric- 
tions laid  upon  trade  by  antient  Acts  of  Parliament.  This  last  is 


a  fact  in  which  I  cannot  be  mistaken.  With  regard  to  my  opinions, 
I  may  be  wrong  in  them ;  but  be  sure  that  my  errour  arises  neither 
from  ill  will  or  obstinacy,  or  a  want  for  the  highest  regard  for  the 
sentiments  of  those  from  whom  I  have  the  misfortune  to  differ; 
and  when  I  take  the  liberty  of  stating  my  Notions  to  you  at  large, 
it  is  not  for  the  sake  of  entering  into  any  controversy,  but  solely 
to  acquit  myself  of  any  intentional  fault.  I  have  the  honour,  &c. 

It  may  be  added  that  Mr.  Burke's  colleague  in  the 
House  of  Commons,  Henry  Cruger,  who  was  an  American 
by  birth,  and  had  been  a  vehement  advocate  of  the  cause 
of  the  colonies,  was  a  pertinacious  opponent  of  any 
relaxation  in  the  laws  which  crippled  Irish  trade.  He 
was  rewarded  for  his  exertions  by  being  elected  Master 
by  the  Society  and  Mayor  by  the  Corporation  in  1781. 

The   need,  in   time    of  war,  of  armed   ships   for   the 
protection   of  commerce   always   caused   the  Society  to 
lend  a  favourable  ear  to  the  requests  of  the  Admiralty 
for   assistance   in    procuring   seamen    for   the    Navy.     A 
few  examples   may  be  given   of  its   proceedings.      At  a 
meeting   in  June,   1705,  the   Hall  resolved  that,  as  the 
Government  had  appointed  a  man-of-war,  then  building, 
for   the    security   of    Bristol    trade,    and    as   money  was 
required    to    raise   a  crew  for  the  ship,  a   loan  of  ^200 
should    be    made    to    the   Admiralty   for    that    purpose. 
And    in    the    following    month,    Mr.    Abraham     Elton 
(Treasurer,    1705-8),   and   other   owners   of  a   merchant 
ship,  lent  the  vessel  gratis  to  the  Society  to  harbour  the 
enlisted  sailors,  the  Hall  undertaking  to  make  good  any 
damages  and  to  engage  a  superintendent.      Seamen  were 
rarely  obtained  in  so  satisfactory  a  manner.  In  December, 
1758,    complaint   was   made   to   the   Society   by  several 
masters   of  ships,    returned    from    Jamaica,    of  the    im- 
pressment  of  their   seamen    seventy   or    eighty   leagues 
west  of   Scilly  by  two  men-of-war,  whereby   one   vessel 
was   totally  lost   and   others   much  delayed  in  reaching 

ig8  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

port.    The  Master  was  consequently  directed  to  represent 
the  facts   to   the   Admiralty;    but    Mr.    Nugent,    M.P., 
wrote  to  the  Hall  a  few  weeks  later,   begging   that  the 
complaint  might  not  be  pressed ;  and  the  whole  country 
being  then  in  ecstacies  of  joy  at  the  glorious  successes 
of  British  arms  under  the  guidance  of  the  first  William 
Pitt,  the  Society  not  only  allowed  the  matter  to  drop, 
but   took   an    extraordinary   step    to    assist    the    Naval 
authorities.     The  Admiralty  having  offered  two  frigates 
to  act  as  convoys  to  Bristol  fleets  bound  westward,  the 
Hall  undertook  to  provide  them  with  crews,  and  hired 
a  ship  at  ^60  per  month   in  which   to  lodge  the  men. 
The    importance    of    a    not   very    reputable    class,    the 
occupiers     of    low    public-houses,    generally    known    as 
"crimps,"  comes   to    light    in   the    minutes   bearing   on 
this  transaction.     The  crimps,  it  is  stated,  did  not  think 
it  worth  their  while  to  inveigle  the  required  sailors  unless 
they  were  assured  that  the  bounty  ostensibly  offered  to 
the  seamen  for  enlisting  would  be  pocketed  by  themselves. 
The  Hall  does  not  appear  to  have  thought  their  conduct 
unreasonable,   for   it   resolved   that   each   sailor  enrolled 
should  be  required  to  sign  an  order,  directing  that  the 
bounty  to  which  he  was  entitled  should  be  paid  by  the 
Society   to   his    crimp !      The    same    remarkable   course 
was   pursued   during   the  perilous   crisis   of  1779.     The 
Society  having  then  subscribed  ^1,000  to  augment  the 
Army  and  Navy,  the  committee  appointed  to  administer 
the  fund  decided  that,  as  the  Government  bounty  then 
paid  for  able  seamen — £11  35.  per  head — was  sufficiently 
large,    the    Hall's    money    would    be    most    effectually 
employed   in    paying  "  crimpage   to   landlords,"  who,    if 
they   secured   the   bounty   also,    as    is    not    improbable, 
must  have  reaped  an  ample  harvest  from  the  misfortunes 
of  the  country.     Upwards  of  ^300  appears  to  have  been 


disbursed  in  this  way  by  the  Treasurer.  The  system  of 
forcible  impressment  was  regarded  throughout  the  century 
as  a  necessary  evil,  and  several  of  the  "  Regulating 
Captains,"  who  superintended  the  operations  of  the  local 
press-gangs,  received  presents  of  plate  from  the  Society 
for  the  efficient  performance  of  their  duties. 

It  is  clear,  however,  that  the  system  was  redolent  of 
abuses,  being  often  made  use  of  to  gratify  private  malice. 
In  1779  a  country  squire  at  Pill,  to  whom  the  estates  of 
the  famous  Morgans  had  descended,  having  had  his 
dignity  offended  by  some  of  the  pilots,  induced  the 
Regulating  Captain  to  impress  six  of  them  "by  way  of 
example,"  and  the  Society  had  to  take  active  measures 
to  obtain  their  liberation.  (The  same  worthy,  it  may  be 
added,  attempted  in  1790  to  regulate  the  motions  of 
shipping  in  the  port,  arrogantly  forbidding  the  pilots  to 
take  charge  of  vessels  on  Sundays,  and  finished  the 
century,  in  1800,  by  obstructing  the  pipes  laid  by  the 
Society  for  providing  the  village  and  shipping  with  water). 

It  is  almost  needless  to  observe  that  the  patriotism 
and  loyalty  of  the  Society  were  never  lacking  in  those 
seasons  of  warfare  and  peril  which  were  only  too  numerous 
in  the  eighteenth  century.  In  September,  1728,  a  massive 
piece  of  plate  was  voted  to  Samuel  Pitts,  master  of  the 
Bristol  ship  Kirtlington,  for  remarkably  gallant  conduct. 
The  vessel,  which  carried  twelve  small  guns,  with  a  crew 
of  seventeen  men,  was  returning  with  a  cargo  from 
Jamaica,  when  she  was  attacked  by  a  Spanish  rover 
carrying  180  desperadoes.  After  an  hour's  engagement 
at  close  quarters,  the  overpowering  fire  of  the  enemy 
drove  the  Englishmen  below,  and  their  ship  was  boarded 
by  about  fifty  Spaniards  ;  but  Pitts  succeeded  in  rallying 
his  men,  and,  it  was  asserted,  killed  the  whole  of  the 
invaders,  and  forced  the  pirate  ship  to  take  flight.  The 


account  of  the  action  further  adds  that  Pitts  had  only 
four  or  five  men  wounded,  and  brought  home  his  ship  and 
cargo  with  flying  colours.  (The  Society's  handsome 
testimonial  to  him  was  purchased  by  the  Corporation  in 
1821,  and  now  decorates  the  Mansion  House.) 

In  1731  a  movement  was  started  in  London  for  the 
erection  of  a  statue  of  William  the  Third ;  but  when  a 
site  lor  the  monument  was  solicited  from  the  Common 
Council,  that  body,  in  which  a  combination  of  Jacobites 
and  of  the  faction  led  by  Lord  Bolingbroke  had  gained 
predominance,  refused  even  to  receive  the  petition. 
The  incident  aroused  much  indignation  throughout  the 
country,  and  notably  amongst  the  merchants  of  Bristol, 
a  large  majority  of  whom  were  Whigs ;  and  steps  were 
forthwith  taken  to  prove  the  attachment  of  the  city  to 
the  Revolution  settlement.  A  memorial  was  addressed 
to  the  Corporation  expressing  the  willingness  of  the 
numerous  signatories  to  erect  a  statue  at  their  own 
charge  to  the  memory  of  "  our  great  and  glorious 
Deliverer,"  if  a  suitable  site  were  granted;  and  the 
Chamber  not  only  assented  to  the  request,  but  unani- 
mously voted  a  donation  of  £500  to  the  subscription  list. 
A  few  days  later,  when  the  subject  was  discussed  by  the 
Hall,  Mr.  Thomas  Freke,  a  gentleman  suspected  of 
Jacobite  sympathies,  sought  to  disconcert  his  political 
opponents  by  proposing  that  the  Society  should  con- 
tribute £1,000  towards  erecting  a  statue  of  the  reigning 
sovereign  ;  but  the  transparent  device  was  swept  aside  by 
moving  the  "  previous  question,"  and  a  vote  of  £300 
towards  the  original  project  was  carried  by  a  large 
majority  of  the  sixty-four  members  present.  The  liberal 
donations  of  the  two  public  bodies  had  a  marked  effect 
in  cooling  the  zeal  of  those  who  had  brought  the  subject 
forward.  Instead  of  fulfilling  their  pledge  to  bear  the 


entire  charge,  their  subscriptions  did  not  meet  one-fourth 
of  the  outlay;  and  in  1736,  when  Jacobite  manifestations 
were  still  common,  the  Corporation  voted  a  further  sum 
of  £500,  to  which  the  Society  added  ^200,  to  meet  the 
claims  of  the  sculptor,  Rysbrach. 

In  March,  1744,  the  menaces  of  the  French  Govern- 
ment to  send  an  invading  army  into  England  in  support 
of  the  Pretender  gave  the  Hall  a  new  opportunity  for 
displaying  its  devotion  to  the  reigning  family.  An  address 
was  drawn  up  for  presentation  to  the  King,  offering  the 
Society's  "sincerest  professions  of  duty,  zeal  and  affection 
at  this  time,  when  the  Disturbers  of  Europe  are  directing 
their  pernicious  schemes  against  your  Majesty's  dominions 
in  favour  of  an  Abjured  Popish  Pretender,"  and  giving 
assurances  that  the  Hall  would,  with  unshaken  loyalty, 
support  the  Throne,  and  use  the  utmost  endeavours  in 
defence  of  the  King's  person  and  Government  and  the 
Protestant  Succession  against  all  enemies  whatsoever. 

War  broke  out  immediately  afterwards,  and  to  safe- 
guard local  ships  from  French  privateers,  which  swarmed 
in  and  near  the  Bristol  Channel,  the  merchants  of  the 
city  forthwith  equipped  a  number  of  well-armed  cruisers, 
ninety  gentlemen  subscribing  £100  each  towards  the  cost. 
Amongst  the  finest  of  these  vessels  were  the  Boscawen,  of 
30  guns,  the  Bristol,  of  38  guns,  the  Leviathan,  of  28  guns, 
and  the  Southwell,  of  24  guns,  having  aggregate  crews  of 
1,050  men.  Many  others  were  sent  out  soon  afterwards, 
and,  in  the  first  few  months  of  the  war,  a  surprising 
number  of  valuable  French  prizes  were  captured,  exciting 
much  riotous  exultation  amongst  the  fortunate  crews  after 
the  division  of  the  booty.  But  the  defeat  of  General 
Cope  by  the  Highland  rebels  in  September,  1745,  gave  a 
prodigious  shock  to  the  complacency  of  the  country.  On 
October  5th,  in  compliance  with  a  summons  issued  by  the 

202  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

Earl  of  Berkeley,  Lord  Lieutenant,  who  had  hurried  to 
the  city,  the  principal  merchants  waited  upon  his  lordship 
at  the  Hall,  to  consider  the  best  means  of  raising  a  body 
of  troops  for  the  defence  of  the  Crown.  Four  days  later 
a  general  meeting  was  held  in  the  Guildhall,  when  a  letter 
was  read  from  the  Duke  of  Newcastle,  expressing  the 
King's  satisfaction  at  the  ardour  and  loyalty  of  the 
citizens,  and  authorising  the  Mayor  to  enroll  a  body  of 
volunteers.  There  not  being  time  to  convene  a  Hall, 
the  Standing  Committee,  on  October  loth,  desired  the 
Master  to  subscribe  ^5,000  in  support  of  the  movement. 
A  number  of  leading  members  of  the  Society  contributed 
sums  varying  from  ^500  to  £100 ;  the  Corporation  voted 
£10,000  independent  of  large  personal  subscriptions,  and 
on  the  1 4th  the  Mayor  informed  the  Duke  of  Newcastle 
that  nearly  ^30,000  had  been  already  promised,  and  that 
fresh  donations  were  still  flowing  in.  (The  amount  raised 
in  Liverpool  was  ^6,000.)  The  working  classes  also 
manifested  much  enthusiasm,  and  Lord  Berkeley  was 
soon  at  the  head  of  a  new  regiment.  The  national  peril, 
which  all  but  broke  the  Bank  of  England,  practically 
came  to  an  end  early  in  December,  when  the  Pretender 
ingloriously  retreated  from  Derby ;  and  only  a  trivial 
fraction  of  the  Bristol  patriotic  fund  was  actually 

In  the  spring  of  1756  war  was  again  declared  against 
France,  and  immediate  measures  were  taken  by  the 
members  of  the  Society  and  other  local  merchants  and 
capitalists  for  the  fitting  out  of  privateers.  The  zeal 
displayed  on  this  occasion  produced  a  fleet  of  war- 
ships far  exceeding  anything  attempted  in  previous  wars, 
and  indicated  the  vast  development  attained  by  local 
commerce.  Within  little  more  than  a  twelvemonth  nearly 
forty  ships  had  been  equipped  in  the  Avon,  and  sent 


to  sea ;  and  upwards  of  twenty  more  were  added  in 
the  two  subsequent  years.  Twenty-six  of  these  privateers 
carried  from  thirty-six  to  twenty  guns,  and  were  manned 
by  about  4,000  sailors  and  volunteers.  Owing  to  the 
destruction  of  the  Custom  House  records,  it  is  unfortu- 
nately impossible  to  give  the  names  of  individual 
owners.  As  in  the  previous  conflict,  many  good  prizes 
were  captured  in  the  early  period  of  the  war ;  but  the 
preponderance  of  English  cruisers  became  ultimately  so 
great  that  few  of  the  enemy's  merchantmen  dared  put 
to  sea,  and  most  of  the  Bristol  adventurers  sustained 
heavy  losses.  An  incident  that  excited  great  exultation 
occurred  in  October,  1758.  A  royal  frigate,  the  Antelope, 
of  fifty-eight  guns,  was  lying  in  Kingroad,  and  the 
commander,  Captain  Saumarez,  had  come  up  to  a 
fashionable  ball  at  the  Hotwells,  when  news  arrived 
that  the  Belliqueux,  a  French  war-ship  of  sixty-four 
guns,  had  taken  shelter  in  distress  near  Lundy  Island. 
Saumarez  set  sail  within  a  few  hours,  captured  the 
enemy  after  a  slight  resistance,  and  brought  her  up, 
with  her  crew  of  470  men,  to  this  port,  for  which  gallant 
action  the  Society  presented  him  with  an  elegant  piece 
of  plate. 

During  the  conflict  then  proceeding,  the  Admiralty 
placed  a  ship  of  war,  and  sometimes  two,  in  the  port 
for  the  purpose  of  convoying  the  local  West  India 
fleets  on  their  outward  and  homeward  voyages,  and  gave 
the  Society  authority  to  direct  the  naval  commanders  as 
to  the  date,  direction,  and  duration  of  each  cruise.  The 
Hall  minutes  show  that  this  remarkable  devolution  of 
power  on  the  part  of  the  Government,  which  denotes  the 
vast  importance  of  Bristol  commerce  at  that  period,  was 
largely  taken  advantage  of;  and  the  Society  made  many 
handsome  gifts  to  captains  who  had  shown  gallantry  and 

204  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

zeal  in  fulfilling  its  orders.  As  an  example  of  these 
voyages,  the  following  extracts  are  given  from  a  letter  of 
Captain  Taylor  Penny,  of  H.M.S.  Looe,  to  the  Master 
(William  Hart),  dated  "Cork,  2  June,  1761":- 

SIR.  I  take  the  earliest  opportunity  to  acquaint  you  that  I 
parted  from  the  Convoy  in  the  following  manner,  viz*,  on  the  i8th  ulto. 
the  John  and  Hopewell,  westward  of  Cape  Clear  253  Leagues : 
on  the  igth  at  noon,  the  Rialto,  Harford,  Ann,  Sterling,  Amy, 
Brislington,  and  Black  Prince  Westwd  of  Cape  Clear  274  Leagues : 
and  on  the  22nd  all  the  rest  of  the  Convoy,  being  1 1  sail,  Westwd  of 
Cape  Clear  307  Leagues.  No  accident  happened  to  any  of  the 
Convoy  whilst  under  my  care,  and  were  all  well  at  parting  with 
a  fair  wind. 

I  am  also  to  acquaint  you  that  on  the  13th  ulto.  Cape  Clear 
then  bearing  N.E.B.N.  160  leagues,  I  saw  a  sail  about  £  past  n  a.m. 
to  which  I  gave  Chase,  and  about  £  past  four  p.m.  came  within 
Musquet  Shot  of  her.  She  then  hoisted  French  Colours  and  began 
to  fire.  I  received  three  broad  sides  from  her  before  I  could  bring 
my  Guns  to  bear,  she  keeping  all  her  sails  on  her ;  at  £  past  I  came 
close  alongside  of  her ;  she  then  engaged  me  about  ten  minutes ; 
and  then  struck.  She  is  the  Jupiter  of  Bayonne  of  Twenty-two 
Guns,  and  185  men,  and  a  very  fine  Frigate.  The  reason  of  my 
coming  in  here  is  to  land  my  Prisoners.  When  done  shall  proceed 
on  the  remainder  of  my  Cruize  without  a  moment's  loss  of  time, 
after  which  shall  call  off  here  and  take  under  my  Convoy  all  ships 
bound  to  Bristol  conformable  to  your  request.  I  am,  &c. 

In  1778,  during  the  American  war,  twenty-one  Bristol 
vessels  were  engaged  in  privateering,  but  they  were  of 
much  inferior  strength  to  their  forerunners  of  1758,  and 
with  only  two  or  three  exceptions  the  outlay  upon  them 
vastly  exceeded  the  receipts.  The  opening  of  the 
revolutionary  war,  in  1793,  found  the  city  labouring  under 
an  extraordinary  mania  for  the  erection  of  gigantic 
terraces  and  crescents  in  various  localities,  and  caused  a 
financial  collapse  unparalleled  in  local  annals.  Mercantile 
interests  doubtless  suffered  severely  in  the  crash,  and  the 
newspapers  do  not  record  the  fitting  out  of  a  single 
privateer.  Following  the  example  of  the  Corporation, 


however,  the  Society  devoted  large  sums  to  increasing  the 
Government  bounty  offered  to  sailors  on  joining  the 
Navy,  and  voted  £200  towards  raising  "  the  Bristol  Loyal 
Regiment,"  which  was  added  to  the  Line.  In  1797  two 
corps  of  "Bristol  Volunteers,"  cavalry  and  infantry,  came 
into  existence,  and  nearly  every  member  of  the  Society 
capable  of  bearing  arms  immediately  joined  the  organi- 
sation. On  February  2oth,  1798,  at  perhaps  the 
gloomiest  period  in  national  history,  the  Society  resolved : 
"That  at  this  important  crisis,  when  our  commerce, 
prosperity,  independence,  and  very  existence  as  a  nation 
are  at  stake,  it  is  the  duty  of  all,  and  particularly  of  a 
Society  enjoying  the  privileges  of  English  merchants,  to 
exert  their  utmost  power  to  defeat  the  destructive  designs 
of  our  enemies.  That  the  Society  regret  that,  through 
the  lowness  of  their  finances,  it  will  not  be  in  their  power 
to  come  forward  to  the  extent  of  their  wishes ;  and  that 
£600,  as  the  gift  of  the  Society,  be  given  towards  the 
Voluntary  Subscription  for  the  defence  of  the  kingdom." 

The  Subscription  thus  referred  to  was  formally  opened 
at  a  great  gathering  of  the  citizens  held  on  February 
23rd  in  the  Guildhall,  when  the  Mayor,  Mr.  Thomas 
Daniel  (Master,  1805)  recalled  the  memorable  effort  made 
in  1745.  The  finances  of  the  Corporation,  like  those  of 
the  Society,  were  not  in  a  flourishing  condition,  and  the 
civic  donation  was  only  £1,000;  but  the  ardour  of  the 
inhabitants  generally  more  than  compensated  for  the 
corporate  shortcomings,  and  the  aggregate  amount  con- 
tributed within  six  weeks  was  £31,300,  the  whole  of  which 
was  forwarded  to  the  Government.  The  sum  greatly 
exceeded  that  subscribed  in  any  other  provincial  town. 

The  Ministry  did  not  display  much  gratitude  for  this 
pecuniary  help.  On  April  2ist  the  Society  were  invited 
to  consider  a  letter  received  by  the  Mayor  from  the 

2O6  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

Admiralty,  recommending  that  all  the  serviceable  long- 
boats in  the  harbour  should  be  armed  with  cannon,  and 
stationed  as  gunboats  in  Kingroad ;  but  neither  men, 
arms,  nor  ammunition  were  offered  by  the  Government, 
which  had  refused  to  station  a  single  cruiser  in  the  Bristol 
Channel,  or  to  erect  a  few  beacons  on  the  coast  to  guard 
against  an  only  too  probable  surprise,  or  to  fortify  any 
point  between  Lundy  Island  and  Bristol.  The  Hall,  in 
concert  with  the  Corporation,  supplied  two  or  three  small 
gunboats,  which  the  Pill  pilots  volunteered  to  man,  but 
their  services  were  fortunately  never  required.  Soon 
afterwards  the  Society  lent  a  pile  engine  to  a  Government 
official,  who  set  about  the  construction  of  some  batteries 
at  Avonmouth,  and  renovated  the  little  fort  at  Portishead. 
Turning  to  subjects  relating  to  the  improvement  of 
the  port  and  of  the  navigation  of  the  Bristol  Channel, 
many  of  the  Society's  minutes  may  still  be  read  with 
interest.  So  early  as  1610  the  Hall  had  employed  the 
famous  seaman,  Martin  Pring,  to  survey  the  Channel, 
and  further  operations  of  the  same  kind  were  ordered  in 
subsequent  years.  In  1702  the  desirability  of  establishing 
a  lighthouse  on  the  Flat  Holm  was  discussed  by  the 
Hall ;  and  in  1733  it  was  resolved  to  apply  to  the  Trinity 
House  for  permission  to  undertake  the  work  at  the 
expense  of  the  Society.  This  design  having  been  frus- 
trated, a  Mr.  Crisp  offered,  in  1737,  to  erect  a  beacon, 
at  an  outlay  of  £800,  under  the  direction  of  the  Hall, 
engaging  to  keep  up  a  large  coal-fire  nightly  throughout 
the  year,  in  consideration  of  receiving  a  passing  toll. 
(This  primitive  arrangement  continued  until  1820,  at 
which  time  the  profits  of  the  lessee  were  stated  to  exceed 
£4,000  per  annum.)  Early  in  the  eighteenth  century, 
owing  to  the  extremely  tortuous  course  of  the  Avon  near 
St.  Vincent's  Rocks,  vessels  exceeding  about  150  tons 


burden  rarely  ascended  the  river  further  than  Hungroad, 
and  in  1728  the  Society  expended  nearly  £700  on 
additional  moorings  there.  They  also  spent  a  large 
sum  in  the  following  year  in  removing  rocks  in  that 
locality,  and  made  numerous  grants  from  time  to  time  for 
improving  the  harbour  for  pilots  at  Pill,  and  for  providing 
a  supply  of  water  there,  as  well  for  the  inhabitants  as 
for  shipping.  In  1767  the  Hall  went  so  far  afield  as 
to  vote  £100  towards  making  a  safe  entrance  to  the 
harbour  at  Barry  Island. 

A  matter  of  much  greater  importance,  however,  was 
the  question  of  providing  increased  accommodation  for 
the  commerce  of  Bristol  itself;  and  the  efforts  of  the 
Society  in  this  direction,  pursued  in  despite  of  much 
local  inertness,  discouragement,  and  even  hostility,  were 
dictated  by  a  foresight  much  in  advance  of  the  age,  and 
are  amongst  the  most  estimable  incidents  in  its  history. 

So  early  as  1755,  a  committee  of  the  Corporation, 
when  reporting  on  the  duties  of  the  Water  Bailiff,  asserted 
that  "  no  human  prudence  could  prevent  the  growing 
danger  to  ships,  without  provision  be  made  for  further 
room  ...  by  the  want  of  which  they  daily  sustain 
considerable  damage."  The  Common  Council's  unwilling- 
ness to  deal  with  the  subject  is  evidenced  by  the  fact  that 
it  was  not  until  three  years  later  that  it  was  resolved  to 
advertise  for  plans  for  converting  part  of  the  Avon  or  the 
Froom  into  a  wet  dock.  Although  such  designs  were 
doubtless  received,  they  were  silently  shelved,  and  a 
committee  previously  appointed  to  consider  the  subject 
never  presented  a  report.  The  great  development  of 
commerce  after  the  Seven  Years'  War  having  increased 
the  overcrowding  of  the  harbour,  while  the  inertia  of  the 
Corporation  was  obviously  fostering  the  growth  of  the 
still  infant  port  of  Liverpool,  a  meeting  of  merchants  was 

2O8  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

held  in  July,  1764,  when  it  was  resolved  that  an  efficient 
scheme  for  keeping  vessels  permanently  afloat  would  be 
highly  beneficial  to  the  city,  and  that  a  subscription  of 
^30,000  should  be  raised  to  carry  it  out.  The  proceedings 
seem  to  have  quickened  the  determination  of  the  civic 
rulers  to  defeat  the  advocates  of  progress.  Following  out 
a  design  that  had  been  some  time  under  consideration, 
the  Corporation,  in  the  following  September,  granted  the 
Society,  whose  lease  of  the  Wharfage  Dues  had  then 
twenty- eight  years  to  run,  a  new  lease  of  those  dues  for 
ninety-nine  years,  at  a  rent  of  £10  a  year,  in  consideration 
of  the  Hall  undertaking  to  construct  a  new  quay  at  the 
Grove,  and  a  little  quay,  130  feet  long,  at  St.  Augustine's 
Back,  whereby  some  additional  berths  would  be  provided 
for  shipping.  On  this  arrangement  becoming  known, 
many  wealthy  citizens  refused  their  support  to  the  dock 
scheme,  the  subscription  for  which  had  reached  barely  a 
third  of  the  required  amount,  and  the  despondency  of  its 
promoters  is  testified  by  the  following  resolution,  passed 
at  a  meeting  of  the  Hall  on  September  2oth  : — 

"A  scheme  for  making  the  Quays  and  part  of  the 
Avon  a  wet  dock  having  been  under  the  consideration  of 
several  merchants,  who  intended  to  attempt  the  same  by 
subscription,  but  are  at  a  stand  from  doubts  as  to  its 
being  practicable,  Ordered,  That  this  Society  will  concur 
with  the  Corporation,  and  contribute  to  the  expense  of 
surveys  by  able  engineers,  in  order  to  ascertain  whether 
the  scheme  can  be  executed." 

A  grant  of  one  hundred  guineas  towards  enabling 
the  promoters  to  obtain  the  necessary  surveys  was  voted 
at  the  next  meeting  of  the  Hall,  whereupon  Mr.  Smeaton, 
the  celebrated  engineer,  was  directed  to  furnish  a  plan, 
which  was  produced  in  January,  1765.  Mr.  Smeaton 
proposed  that  the  Froom  branch  of  the  harbour  should 


be  converted  into  a  floating  dock,  by  placing  a  dam  across 
its  mouth,  and  that  it  should  be  connected  with  the 
Avon  by  means  of  a  canal  through  Canons'  Marsh.  The 
cost  of  the  works  was  estimated  at  £25,000,  exclusive  of 
compensation  for  the  land  required  for  the  canal.  Strange 
as  it  now  appears,  the  engineer's  proposal  took  away  the 
breath  of  the  improvement  party.  Mr.  Barrett,  who  was 
a  witness  of  its  effects,  briefly  notes  in  his  History  that 
the  estimated  outlay  "was  so  great  as  to  quash  the 
enterprise."  (The  promoters  were  so  mean  spirited  as  to 
decline  to  defray  the  balance  of  Mr.  Smeaton's  charges 
and  other  expenses.  In  1776,  Mr.  Thomas  Symons,  a 
public -spirited  attorney,  who  had  been  employed  by 
them,  appealed  to  the  Corporation  to  be  recouped  the 
sums  he  had  personally  advanced  to  the  engineer  and 
othe-rs  on  behalf  of  his  clients,  amounting  to  nearly  £230. 
The  Council  voted  him  £130.  The  balance  appears  to 
have  been  paid  by  the  Society.) 

In  January,  1767,  Mr.  William  Champion,  an  enter- 
prising local  engineer,  propounded  a  plan  of  a  much  more 
ambitious  character  than  that  of  Smeaton,  proposing  that 
lock  gates  should  be  constructed  across  the  Avon  opposite 
Red  Clift  House,  and  the  two  rivers  converted  into  a 
floating  harbour  capable  of  containing  a  thousand  ships, 
the  cost  being  estimated  at  £30,000.  The  opponents  of 
improvement  thereupon  employed  an  engineer  named 
Mylne  to  throw  cold  water  on  the  scheme,  and  as  the 
critic  positively  asserted  that  £60,000  would  scarcely 
suffice  to  carry  it  out,  capitalists  held  aloof,  and  the 
matter  went  to  sleep  again  for  nearly  a  generation,  to  the 
immense  profit  of  Liverpool. 

Two  or  three  years  before  laying  the  above  plan 
before  the  public,  Mr.  Champion  had  begun  the  construc- 
tion of  two  docks  for  repairing  ships  on  the  right  bank 



of  the  Avon,  near  Rownham.  The  adventure  proved 
disastrous  to  its  projector,  and  the  works,  with  some 
adjoining  property,  were  purchased  in  1770  by  the  Society, 
who  resolved  upon  enlarging  and  deepening  the  larger 
dock  to  make  it  available  for  the  reception  of  inward- 
bound  vessels  laden  with  inflammable  naval  stores  and 
timber,  which  were  then  allowed  to  encumber  the  public 
quays.  Extensive  and  costly  improvements  having  been 
effected,  an  Act  was  obtained  in  1776  "  to  remove  the 
danger  of  fire  amongst  the  ships  in  the  port  of  Bristol," 
empowering  the  Society  to  make  further  enlargements  of 
the  dock,  and  to  build  warehouses  for  storing  dangerous 
materials,  and  prohibiting  the  landing  of  tar,  deals,  &c., 
except  there  or  at  private  wharves.  It  being  desirable 
that  the  premises  should  be  within  civic  jurisdiction,  the 
statute  further  enacted  that  the  strip  of  the  parish  of 
Clifton  lying  to  the  south-west  of  Hotwell  Road,  "from 
a  little  brook  anciently  called  Woodwell  Lake  "  (but  then 
running  in  an  underground  culvert)  to  Rownham  Ferry, 
should  be  separated  from  Gloucestershire  and  included 
within  the  city  bounds.  The  undertaking  involved  a 
capital  expenditure  of  many  thousand  pounds,  which  the 
slender  income  of  the  Society  was  ill  calculated  to  bear, 
and  which  accounts  for  the  "  lowness  of  finances " 
acknowledged  in  the  resolution  of  1798  (see  page  205). 
Large  disbursements  had  moreover  to  be  made  from  time 
to  time  for  the  removal  from  the  dock  of  the  enormous 
accumulations  of  mud  deposited  by  the  tides  of  the  river. 
A  local  pamphlet  published  in  1790  asserted  that  "the 
great  dock  is  capable  of  containing  thirty- six  of  the 
largest  ships  belonging  to  the  port  .  .  .  and  it  has  never 
yet  been  completely  filled." 

The  next  minute  of  the  Society  in  reference  to  the 
Floating    Harbour   is    dated    November   2Oth,    1786 :— 


"  Mr.  William  Miles  having  submitted  to  the  Hall  that 
it  would  be  of  great  public  utility  if  the  present  quays 
were  converted  into  floating  docks,  Ordered,  That  the 
[Standing]  Committee  do  consider  any  scheme  suggested 
for  effectuating  the  same."  The  Committee,  a  few  days 
later,  sent  a  communication  to  Mr.  Smeaton,  desiring 
him  to  recommend  an  able  engineer  to  make  surveys  and 
estimates,  and  that  gentleman  replied  by  nominating  two 
capable  men — Mr.  Joseph  Nickalls  and  Mr.  William 
Jessop.  The  Hall  having  voted  £200  for  preliminary 
expenses,  the  Committee  invited  Mr.  Nickalls  to  Bristol, 
and  that  gentleman,  after  making  a  careful  survey  of  the 
Avon  and  the  harbour,  produced  a  thoroughly  original 
design  in  the  autumn  of  1787.  His  report  pointed  out 
the  irremediable  defect  of  any  scheme  for  a  dock  con- 
structed at  or  above  Rownham,  namely,  the  impossibility 
of  its  being  reached  by  the  larger  class  of  vessels  entering 
the  port  (by  which  he  meant  ships  of  about  400  tons 
burden)  except  at  spring  tides,  owing  to  a  gradual  rise 
of  about  ten  feet  in  the  bed  of  the  Avon  between  Black 
Rock  and  Rownham.  In  his  opinion,  the  only  way  to 
overcome  this  difficulty  was  to  construct  locks  for  a 
floating  harbour  near  Black  Rock,  to  which  ships  of 
heavy  tonnage — then  often  detained  for  more  than  a  week 
at  Kingroad — could  ascend  at  the  lowest  tides,  the  depth 
of  water  there  being  nearly  forty  feet,  while  the  navigation 
of  the  most  tortuous  portions  of  the  Avon  would  be 
rendered  easy.  The  cost  of  a  dam  at  the  place  pointed 
out  would,  he  added,  be  inconsiderable,  the  bed  and 
banks  of  the  river  being  of  solid  rock,  and  no  purchases 
of  land  would  be  necessary.  Mr.  Nickalls  apparently 
estimated  the  total  outlay  at  about  ^25,000. 

Some    members  of   the   Society,   however,   had    been 
induced  to  favour  a  scheme  for  making  the  Hall's  floating 

212  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

dock  available  as  an  entrance  into  the  proposed  harbour, 
whilst  others  advocated  a  dock  at  Canons'  Marsh.  Further 
advice  being  considered  desirable,  Mr.  Jessop  was  requested 
to  present  a  report,  and,  as  was  to  be  expected,  that 
gentleman  discountenanced  the  scheme  of  his  professional 
colleague,  and  propounded  a  plan  of  his  own,  embracing 
the  erection  of  a  dam  at  Mardyke,  and  a  cutting  through 
Rownham  Meads  to  carry  off  flood  water,  the  outlay  being 
estimated  at  .£32,000. 

The  Society  now  thought  it  advisable  to  consult 
Mr.  Smeaton,  who  came  down  to  study  the  problem 
on  the  spot,  and  the  natural  result  was  the  production 
of  a  third  plan,  and  the  condemnation  of  those  already 
made,  especially  that  of  Nickalls,  who,  at  the  Society's 
request,  produced  another  in  1790,  providing  a  lock  at 
Rownham,  The  details  of  Smeaton's  scheme  are  not 
preserved  in  the  Hall,  but  may  be  inferred  from  what 
follows.  After  prolonged  consideration  and  many 
debates,  the  Standing  Committee,  in  February,  1791, 
reported  to  the  Hall  that  the  best  site  for  a  weir  would 
be  a  little  below  Red  Clift  House,  and  that  a  cutting 
to  deal  with  flood  water  should  be  made  through 
Rownham  Meads,  the  outlay  being  estimated  by  Mr. 
Smeaton  at  about  £74,500,  and  by  Jessop  at  about 
£52,000,  but  those  sums  did  not  include  purchases  of 
land  or  compensation  for  property  injuriously  affected. 

Having  brought  the  matter  to  this  point,  and 
thoroughly  considered  it  in  all  its  bearings,  the  Society, 
in  October,  1791,  passed  a  series  of  resolutions  which 
members  of  the  Hall  may  still  read  with  satisfaction  :— 

Resolved,  That  the  harbour  is  by  nature  inferior  to  that  of 
many  British  ports,  and  that  local  shipowners  are  not  on  equal 
footing  with  those  of  other  ports,  either  as  regards  security  of  ships 
whilst  in  port,  or  as  to  ease  and  expedition  in  discharging  and 
loading.  That  from  the  same  cause  the  ships  of  strangers  and 


the  charterers  of  such  ships  are  under  similar  inconveniences. 
That  the  losses  sustained  by  these  causes  amount  to  a  very  large 
sum  annually.  That  the  prosperity  of  the  port  must  largely  depend 
on  its  goodness  and  security,  and  that  the  wealth  and  affluence 
of  the  city  are  closely  connected  with  this  prosperity.  That  the 
existing  great  inconveniences  may  be  remedied  without  impediment 
to  trade,  or  injury  to  health  or  property,  by  erecting  a  dam  across 
the  Avon  at  the  Red  Cliff,  and  by  cutting  a  canal,  with  locks  and 
sluices,  in  Rownham  Meads,  agreeably  to  the  plans  of  Mr  Smeaton 
and  Mr  Jessop,  and  by  adopting  such  of  Mr  Nickalls'  provisions 
as  shall  be  deemed  expedient.  That  there  is  every  reason  to 
believe  that  the  whole  expense  of  executing  this  improvement, 
and  of  indemnifying  those  whose  property  may  be  injured,  will 
not  be  greater  than  the  advantages  acquired  by  it  will  much 
more  than  counterbalance.  That  such  annual  revenue  should  be 
provided  as  not  only  to  pay  the  interest  of  the  money  laid  out  and 
the  charges  of  management,  but  also  to  create  a  sinking  fund  for 
the  discharge  of  the  debt  in  a  moderate  number  of  years,  and  to 
provide  for  repairs  and  improvements ;  and  that  such  adequate 
revenue  will  be  produced  by  a  toll  over  the  proposed  bridge  over 
the  Dam,  and  by  a  tax  on  shipping  not  exceeding  the  dock  rates 
paid  at  Liverpool,  calculating  only  on  the  present  trade  of  the  port, 
which  the  improvement  will  doubtless  considerably  increase.  That 
the  improvement  should  be  executed  for  the  sole  benefit  of  the  public 
by  commissioners  or  trustees,  and  that  no  individual  or  body  of 
men  should  derive  any  emolument  therefrom.  That  the  Merchants' 
Society  having,  at  a  large  expense,  with  the  sole  view  of  benefitting 
the  public,  provided  the  plans  and  estimates,  they  conceive  they 
have  completed  all  that  was  incumbent  upon  them  as  a  separate 
body ;  but  that  they  conceive  it  to  be  their  duty  to  co-operate  with 
the  Corporation  and  citizens  in  carrying  this  great  improvement  into 
effect,  and  offer  their  best  services  and  endeavours  towards  that  end. 

In  pursuance  of  these  resolutions,  Ordered,  That  the  Standing 
Committee  communicate  the  result  of  their  labours  to  the  Corpora- 
tion, requesting  them  to  unite  in  the  undertaking,  and  be  empowered 
to  confer  with  a  committee  of  the  Corporation,  or  any  other  body  of 
men,  in  the  conduct  of  the  business. 

The  Treasurer  is  directed  to  pay  the  sums  now  due  to  Messrs. 
Smeaton,  Nickalls  and  Jessop. 

On  receiving  a  copy  of  the  above  resolutions,  the 
Common  Council  showed  a  temporary  inclination  to 
abandon  the  apathetic  policy  that  had  been  so  long 

214  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

pursued.  A  special  meeting  was  held  to  consider  the 
subject,  and  a  committee  was  appointed  to  report,  and 
did  so  in  December,  admitting  the  correctness  of  the 
Society's  statements  as  to  the  shortcomings  of  the  port 
and  the  serious  evils  that  resulted  from  them,  and 
approving  of  the  Hall's  proposals  for  a  floating  harbour. 
After  a  long  delay,  some  members  of  the  Chamber  were 
appointed  to  confer  with  a  committee  of  the  Society  with 
a  view  to  further  action,  and  this  joint  body  recommended, 
in  September,  1793,  that  a  Parliamentary  Bill  should  be 
prepared  for  the  following  Session.  Encouraged  at  the 
prospect,  the  Hall  immediately  resolved  that  "  the 
Society  should  contribute  to  so  desirable  an  object  to  the 
utmost  of  its  ability,  should  the  Corporation  be  inclined 
to  co-operate."  But  the  energy  of  the  civic  rulers  had 
already  evaporated,  and  there  is  no  further  mention  of  the 
proposed  Bill.  Somewhat  curiously,  the  Society,  in  the 
following  November,  desired  Mr.  Jessop  to  report  on  the 
desirability  of  constructing  a  dam  near  Cook's  Folly,  thus 
reverting  to  Nickalls'  first  and  very  economical  design  ; 
but  his  reply  is  not  to  be  found,  and  the  whole  question 
drops  out  of  sight  for  seven  years. 

At  a  Hall  held  on  July  2Qth,  1800,  the  minutes  state 
that  "  the  resolutions  of  the  Society,  adopted  in  October, 
1791,  .  .  .  were  read  and  approved,  and  the  Committee 
were  authorised  to  confer  with  the  Corporation,  and  to 
take  such  steps  for  bringing  forward  the  business  again  as 
they  think  necessary."  Judging  from  the  minutes  of  the 
Common  Council,  this  proposal  did  not  receive  even  the 
courtesy  of  an  acknowledgment.  The  Society  up  to  that 
date  had  disbursed  over  ^1,000  in  procuring  plans  and 
estimates  from  the  engineers  it  had  employed.  The  later 
history  of  the  Float  will  be  given  in  the  ensuing  chapter. 

Owing  to  the  demise  of  the  Hot  Well  to  a  body  of 


Bristolians,  as  described  in  page  169,  the  minutes  of  the 
Society  afford  no  information  respecting  the  Spring 
during  the  period  of  its  greatest  celebrity.  The  only 
references  to  it  for  more  than  eighty  years  consist  of 
complaints  and  remonstrances  against  the  frequent 
attempts  of  the  sub-lessees  to  debar  the  citizens  and 
neighbouring  Cliftonians  from  the  privilege  reserved  by 
the  lease  of  drinking  and  carrying  away  the  water  free 
from  charge.  The  Society,  on  one  occasion,  indicted 
a  tenant  for  his  extortions,  and  apparently  obtained  his 
conviction  at  Gloucester  assizes. 

Possibly  with  a  view  to  the  entertainment  of  the 
fashionable  visitors,  though  also  with  the  desire  of  pro- 
viding some  amusement  for  Bristol,  where  play-acting  was 
forbidden,  the  Society  permitted  the  erection  in  1729  of  a 
little  theatre  on  part  of  its  estate  near  Jacob's  Wells,  which 
was  a  popular  resort  for  nearly  forty  years.  A  play  bill  for 
August,  1754,  announced  that  the  next  performance  would 
be  patronised  by  the  Duke  and  Duchess  of  St.  Albans. 

The  discovery  of  another  spring  of  a  similar  thermal 
character  to  the  Hot  Well  occurred  at  an  earlier  date. 
In  1702  the  Society  were  informed  that  a  new  Hot  Well 
had  been  found  by  the  side  of  the  Avon,  near  Oakham 
Slade — the  then  name  of  the  ravine  descending  from 
Durdham  Down.  But  the  discovery  seems  to  have 
excited  little  attention,  and  the  spring  is  not  mentioned 
again  for  twenty- seven  years,  when  a  motion  that  it 
should  be  let  to  a  tenant  was  negatived,  and  the  place 
was  ordered  to  be  made  convenient  for  providing  vessels 
with  water.  Proposals,  however,  were  soon  after  made  to 
the  Hall,  and  in  1730  the  spring  was  leased  to  two  men 
for  a  term  of  fifty  years,  at  an  annual  rent  of  £100 — an 
enormous  sum  in  view  of  the  fact  that  no  building  existed 
within  a  mile  of  the  spot,  and  that  the  only  approach  to 

2l6  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

it  was  by  rugged  foot  tracks.  (The  towing-path  along  the 
bank  of  the  river  was  not  laid  out  until  1765.)  But 
mineral  waters  were  then  in  universal  repute,  and  the 
humble  cottages  that  sprang  up  at  the  new  Spa  seem  to 
have  attracted  many  sober-minded  invalids  desirous  of 
shunning  the  bustle  and  fashionable  vagaries  for  which 
the  old  Hot  Well  had  become  famous.  In  1746,  however, 
the  lessees,  then  insolvent,  and  owing  several  years'  rent, 
surrendered  the  property,  which  remained  unoccupied 
until  1750,  when  a  new  lease  for  twenty-one  years  was 
granted  to  John  Dolman,  at  a  rent  of  £24. 

Dolman,  who  combined  the  avocations  of  a  basket 
maker  and  a  dissenting  preacher,  eventually  blossoming 
into  a  beneficed  clergyman,  published  in  1755  a  dismal 
lucubration  entitled  Contemplations  amongst  Vincent's 
Rocks,  in  which  he  expatiated  on  the  surprising  recovery 
from  incipient  consumption  of  the  celebrated  John 
Wesley,  after  a  three  week's  course  of  the  water  in 
the  previous  year.  Dolman's  admission  that  the  only 
human  objects  usually  visible  from  his  premises  were 
the  remains  of  two  murderers,  gibbeted  on  Durdham 
Down,  indicates  the  extreme  solitude  of  the  locality. 
Nothing  more  is  recorded  of  the  Well  until  1778,  when 
Dolman's  successor  had  died,  leaving  two  years'  rent 
in  arrear,  and  the  Pump  Room  semi-ruinous.  No  one 
being  adventurous  enough  to  take  his  place,  the  Hall 
determined,  in  1784,  to  let  it  in  conjunction  with  the  Old 
Well.  A  last  doleful  notice  of  the  place  occurs  in  1795, 
when  it  was  reported  that  a  tenant  had  held  it  for  five 
years  and  a  half  at  £5  per  annum,  but  that  no  more  than 
six  guineas  had  been  extracted  from  him  throughout  his 
occupation.  The  spring,  however,  became  a  subject  of 
lively  interest  to  the  Society  in  the  following  century. 

Returning  to  the  original  Hot  Well,  it  appears  that  on 


the  expiration  of  the  long  lease,  in  1785,  the  Hall  resolved 
upon  making  extensive  improvements  in  the  Pump  Room 
and  adjoining  buildings,  and  eventually  expended  nearly 
^"3,000  on  the  property,  exclusive  of  the  Colonnade,  which 
was  built  by  private  enterprise.  A  lessee  on  the  Society's 
terms — £600  a  year — not  being  found,  Mr.  Thomas  Perkins 
(Master,  1780,)  was  appointed  manager  on  behalf  of  the 
Hall,  and  was  allotted  one-third  of  the  receipts  for  his 
remuneration.  The  Society  soon  afterwards  unconsciously 
struck  the  first  fatal  blow  at  the  popularity  of  the  Spa  as 
a  fashionable  sojourn  by  imposing  a  charge  of  five  shillings 
per  week  on  each  person  drinking  the  water.  The  former 
subscription,  practically  voluntary,  had  not  exceeded  a 
guinea  for  the  season.  The  price  of  the  water  despatched 
to  distant  places  in  bottles  appears  to  have  been  also 
largely  increased.  A  very  extensive  export  business  was 
done  in  this  way,  and  Mr.  Perkins  had  two  warehouses  in 
London,  another  at  Liverpool,  and  a  fourth  at  Rotterdam. 
His  supervision  ended  in  1790,  the  net  yearly  receipts 
having  never  exceeded  about  ^550. 

One  Samuel  Powell  then  took  a  lease  of  the  premises, 
at  a  rent  of  no  less  than  £945  ;  and  forthwith  increased 
the  subscription  demanded  from  visitors,  and  the  prices 
charged  for  the  bottled  water.  He  even  carried  his 
policy  so  far  as  to  shut  up  the  pump  that  had  been 
previously  open  free  to  Bristolians,  and  to  refuse  them 
a  supply  except  on  payment  of  his  terms ;  but  the 
Common  Council  resolved  on  vindicating  the  public 
rights,  and  his  rapacity  was  defeated.  Before  the  end 
of  three  years,  however,  he  was  unable  to  meet  his 
engagements,  and  in  1795  the  Society  again  took 
possession,  and  appointed  him  as  manager  at  a  weekly 
salary.  The  result  of  the  first  year's  working  of  this 
arrangement  proved  highly  lucrative,  £613  being  received 

2l8  THE    SOCIETY   IN 

from  subscribers,  and  £647  from  the  sale  of  "  2,727 
dozen  of  bottles  and  a  few  jars,"  showing  that  the 
wholesale  price  of  the  water  was  about  45.  Sd.  per 
dozen  bottles.  After  deducting  expenses,  the  net  balance 
was  £917.  The  enhanced  charges,  however,  had  given 
mortal  offence  to  many  habitual  visitors,  the  majority 
of  whom  had  flocked  to  Clifton  in  pursuit  of  pleasure 
rather  than  of  health,  and  the  revenue  steadily  declined 
— a  process  which  was  accelerated  by  repeated  additions 
to  the  price  of  exported  water,  which  was  advanced  at 
last  to  about  75.  per  dozen — whilst  no  proportionable  re- 
duction was  practicable  in  the  working  expenses.  In  the 
last  four  years  of  the  century  the  profits  averaged  £636 
per  annum.  In  the  ten  years  ending  1810  they  had  fallen 
to  an  average  of  £407.  The  credit  balance  was  only  £73 
in  1816,  and  in  1820  the  receipts  did  not  cover  the  ex- 
penses. The  subsequent  efforts  of  the  Hall  to  revive  the 
popularity  of  the  Well  will  be  narrated  in  a  future  page. 

The  Society  heartily  co-operated  with  the  Corporation 
whenever  that  body  promoted  works  of  public  improve- 
ment in  the  city.  Thus,  when  the  erection  of  an 
Exchange  for  the  transaction  of  mercantile  business  was 
determined  upon  in  1739,  the  Hall  made  a  donation 
of  £2,000  towards  the  undertaking,  and  bore  half  the 
expense  of  obtaining  the  necessary  Act  of  Parliament. 
In  1775  a  grant  of  £800  was  voted  to  assist  in  sweeping 
away  a  number  of  hovels  standing  on  the  bank  of  the 
Froom  between  the  end  of  Denmark  Street  and  the 
Drawbridge  ;  and  in  1776  a  gift  of  200  guineas  was  made 
towards  the  removal  of  the  ancient  City  Gate  at  the  end 
of  Small  Street,  and  the  improvement  of  King  Street. 
In  1784,  when  Christ  Church  was  about  to  be  re-built, 
the  Society  promised  £500  to  the  fund,  on  condition  that 
the  upper  part  of  Broad  Street,  which  Mr.  Seyer  noted  in 


one  of  his  MSS.  was  then  only  14  feet  wide,  should 
be  made  at  least  22^  feet  in  width,  or  four  feet  more  than 
was  proposed  by  the  vestry ;  and  this  improvement  was 
accordingly  accomplished.  In  1777  the  Hall  expended  a 
large  sum  in  widening  Marsh  Street.  And  in  1772  and 
1795,  when  the  vestry  of  St.  Stephen's  demolished  a 
quantity  of  old  tenements  blocking  up  the  thoroughfares 
near  the  church,  donations  amounting  to  ^400  were  made 
in  aid  of  the  operations.  In  1747  a  project  was  started 
for  the  erection  of  a  Hospital  for  decayed  seamen,  when 
the  Society  and  the  Corporation  offered  ^500  each,  the 
Council  also  providing  a  site  on  Brandon  Hill ;  but  the 
design  was  ultimately  abandoned,  and  the  money  appears 
to  have  been  given  to  the  local  Merchant  Seamen's  Fund. 
Numberless  gifts  were  made  for  amending  the  roads 
around  the  city,  and  the  aggregate  votes  towards  widening 
and  improving  Hotwell  Road  alone  must  have  exceeded 
^,000.  Benefactions  to  charitable  movements  were  too 
numerous  to  be  detailed.  In  times  of  dearth  the  Society 
occasionally  imported  several  thousand  bushels  of  foreign 
grain,  which  were  re-sold  at  or  below  cost  price ;  and 
money  was  often  distributed  amongst  the  poor  of  dis- 
tressed localities.  Bounties  were  also  offered  for  the 
importation  of  fish.  All  through  the  century,  relief  was 
rendered  to  those  pilots  at  Pill  who  sustained  personal 
injuries  or  lost  their  boats  in  their  perilous  avocation. 
About  ^600  were  forwarded  to  sufferers  from  disastrous 
fires  at  Blandford,  Tiverton,  Crediton,  Honiton,  Barba- 
does,  and  Antigua.  Benefactions  were  made  towards 
the  ransom  of  mariners  captured  and  held  as  slaves  by 
Algerine  pirates,  and  towards  the  succour  of  disbanded 
troops,  and  of  soldiers  and  sailors  wounded  in  battle. 
Besides  a  large  subscription  to  the  Infirmary,  a  special 
grant  of  twenty  guineas  per  annum  was  provided  for  a 

220  THE    SOCIETY   IN 

chaplain  to  that  institution ;  and  help  was  rendered  to 
the  establishment  of  county  hospitals  at  Gloucester  and 
Taunton.  The  Bristol  Library  was  liberally  supported, 
and  a  donation  was  made  towards  establishing  lending 
libraries  in  Wales.  Votes  for  the  building  or  restoration 
of  parish  churches  and  parsonages  were  passed  for  All 
Saints',  St.  Stephen's,  St.  Nicholas',  St.  Werburgh's,  St. 
Michael's,  Christ  Church,  Clifton,  Stapleton,  St.  George's, 
Portishead,  and  Locking,  together  with  the  French 
Protestant  Chapel  in  Orchard  Street,  and  a  Protestant 
Church  at  Rotterdam.  Following  an  example  of  the 
Corporation,  the  Hall  made  many  presents  of  wine  to 
persons  who  had  rendered  services  to  mercantile  interests. 
In  1717  a  pipe  of  sherry  was  presented  to  each  of  the 
members  of  Parliament  for  the  city.  The  gift  became 
an  annual  one,  regardless  of  party  considerations,  and  was 
continued  until  1836.  When  subjects  of  interest  to  the 
Hall  were  pending  in  the  House  of  Commons,  as 
"Bristol  Milk"  was  known  to  be  an  attractive  delicacy, 
an  additional  pipe  or  butt  was  occasionally  confided  to 
the  city  members,  to  be  disposed  of  "at  their  discretion." 
An  honorarium  of  the  like  kind  was  voted  for  some  years 
to  three  members  of  the  Society — Mr.  A.  Elton,  Mr.  (Sir) 
J.  Laroche,  and  Mr.  Combe — who  at  different  periods 
held  seats  in  the  Commons  for  distant  boroughs.  And 
in  1774  it  became  an  established  custom  to  present  a 
hogshead  of  wine  yearly  to  the  Treasurer,  who  received 
no  pecuniary  recompense  for  his  services.  (The  latter 
gift  was  doubled  in  1838  and  the  three  following  years, 
owing  to  the  increasing  duties  of  the  office.) 

Having  now  disposed  of  the  leading  local  questions 
in  which  the  Society  were  concerned  during  the  eighteenth 
century,  this  chapter  may  be  concluded  by  some  remarks 
on  their  internal  affairs.  The  scanty  accommodation  of 


the  original  Hall  (St.  Clement's  Chapel)  has  been  already 
noted.  In  February,  1701,  the  Standing  Committee  were 
empowered  to  make  such  alterations  as  they  might  think 
desirable,  and  workmen  were  accordingly  employed  for 
some  months,  during  which  meetings  were  held  in  St. 
George's  Chapel,  in  the  Guildhall.  The  improvements 
effected,  however,  were  inconsiderable ;  but  it  may  be 
noted  that  the  opportunity  was  taken  to  remove  the  old 
wooden  benches,  and  to  introduce  chairs  for  the  use  of 
ordinary  members.  It  was  also  resolved  that  all  the 
pictures  in  the  Hall  should  be  "  made  of  an  equal  length 
with  Alderman  Jackson's."  Perhaps  this  Procrustean 
order  could  not  be  carried  out  as  regarded  John  Whitson's 
portrait,  for  it  was  soon  afterwards  given  to  the  Red 
Maids  School.  The  amended  accommodation  proving 
unsatisfactory,  a  thorough  reconstruction,  involving  the 
demolition  of  several  small  adjoining  tenements,  was 
resolved  upon  in  1719,  and  two  new  apartments,  the 
"Great  Room"  and  the  "  Withdrawing  Room,"  were 
completed  in  that  year.  In  1720  it  was  resolved  that 
"  a  handsome  way  should  be  made  at  the  entrance  of  our 
Hall,"  necessitating  the  destruction  of  more  old  houses 
clustered  round  the  building,  and  £1,000  were  laid  out 
on  the  embellishments,  besides  £1,200  spent  in  purchasing 
property.  In  the  two  following  years  the  King  Street 
frontage  appears  to  have  been  rebuilt,  and  ornamental 
iron  gates  and  railings  were  placed  at  the  entrance,  the 
price  of  the  metalwork  being  no  less  than  eightpence  per 
pound.  In  1738  it  was  determined  to  remove  another 
old  tenement  in  order  to  make  a  "  dry  passage"  into  the 
building,  together  with  a  servants'  hall.  In  1788  the  Hall 
was  ordered  to  undergo  another  reconstruction,  which 
extended  over  several  years,  and  involved  an  outlay  of 
£6,000,  including  £542  for  chandeliers  and  lamps.  The 

222  THE    SOCIETY    IN 


erection  of  the  present  Committee  Room  and  Treasurers' 
offices  took  place  in  the  following  century. 

Previous  to  1701,  and  for  some  years  afterwards,  the 
fine  for  admission  to  the  Hall  imposed  on  a  merchant  not 
eligible  for  the  freedom  by  birth  or  apprenticeship,  was 
generally  ^25  or  £30.  In  1691  an  exceptional  fine  of  £40 
had  been  imposed  on  Sir  John  Duddleston,  but  the 
baronet,  in  despite  of  a  still  popular  fiction,  was  the  most 
extensive  local  importer  of  tobacco,  and  his  relief  from 
the  duties  on  non-freemen  was  correspondingly  large. 
There  is  no  record  of  any  one  having  been  refused 
admission  on  the  customary  terms,  except  in  1711,  during 
the  High  Church  excitement  of  Queen  Anne's  reign, 
when  Charles  Harford,  a  prosperous  merchant,  was 
rejected,  "  he  being  a  professed  Quaker,"  it  being  further 
ordained  that  no  Quaker  should  be  admitted  on  any 
terms  (but  this  Ordinance  was  repealed  in  1720).  No 
alteration  was  made  in  the  fine  on  "  Redemptioners,"  as 
they  were  called,  until  1713,  when  the  minimum  admission 
fee  was  fixed  at  ^50,  increased  in  1725  to  ^100,  and  in 
1730  to  ^200.  The  last-named  sum  put  an  end  to 
applications  for  admission.  In  February,  1738,  the 
charge  was  reduced  to  £100  for  the  especial  behoof  of 
eleven  gentlemen  then  admitted ;  immediately  after  which 
ceremony  it  was  ordained  that  the  future  fine  should  be 
raised  to  ^250.  This  sum  proved  also  prohibitory,  and 
no  candidate  offered  himself  for  twenty-seven  years, 
causing  a  diminution  in  the  roll  of  members,  the  acces- 
sions by  birth  and  apprenticeship  being  less  numerous 
than  the  removals  by  death.  In  1765  the  resolution  of 
1738  was  rescinded,  and  the  fine  settled  at  £150,  it  being 
further  ordained  that  admission  should  be  granted  only  to 
"  meer  merchants" — not  merchants  trading  to  St.  Kits, 
as  is  absurdly  alleged  in  the  Life  of  Edward  Colston,  but 


merchants  trading  oversea.  In  consequence,  it  may  be 
presumed,  of  the  numerous  applicants  for  admission  at 
the  reduced  terms  (sixteen  in  all)  the  fine  was  again 
increased  in  September,  1768,  to  £200,  at  which  sum  it 
remained  during  the  rest  of  the  century.  The  number  of 
Redemptioners  from  1701  to  1800  was  eighty,  but  the  roll 
of  members  had  nevertheless  greatly  shrunk  during  that 
period,  whilst  the  customary  attendance  at  the  Halls  had 
remarkably  declined.  In  the  period  ending  1725,  the 
members  present  at  the  annual  elections,  when  the  Master 
took  the  chair  at  eight  o'clock  in  the  morning,  rarely  fell 
below  sixty,  and  sometimes  reached  about  eighty ;  while 
the  attendance  at  ordinary  Halls  was  always  considerable. 
On  the  loth  November,  1800,  when  the  proceedings 
opened  at  ten  o'clock,  the  number  present  was  only 
twenty,  then  become  an  average.  Long  before  that  date 
many  Halls  were  held  at  which  the  attendance  was  less 
than  a  dozen.  Attempts  to  remedy  the  falling  off  were 
occasionally  devised,  but  they  were  evidently  half-hearted. 
Thus,  in  February,  1748,  two  members  were  fined  35.  \d. 
each  for  non-attendance,  though  the  actual  number  of 
absentees  on  that  occasion  was  seventy-nine.  At  the 
annual  meeting  in  1759,  at  which  only  nineteen  gentlemen 
were  present,  it  was  ordered  that  the  fine  for  non- 
attendance  should  be  actually  levied ;  yet  it  is  clear  that 
the  resolution  was  treated  as  waste  paper.  In  1764,  when 
a  Hall  seems  to  have  been  specially  convened  to  present 
the  freedom  to  George  Grenville,  a  Prime  Minister  only 
too  famous  in  history,  political  feeling  was  so  slightly 
excited  that  only  fourteen  members  obeyed  the  summons ; 
and  in  1777,  at  the  extreme  crisis  of  the  American  con- 
flict, when  party  passions  were  violently  inflamed,  the 
Hall  which  adopted  a  congratulatory  address  to  the 
King  mustered  only  thirty-one  members. 

224  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

The  sons  and  apprentices  of  members  were  generally 
admitted  as  a  matter  of  course,  and  paid  merely  nominal 
fees.  The  names  of  some  of  the  apprentices  denote  the 
wide  reputation  of  the  Society  in  the  early  years  of  the 
century.  Amongst  them  were  two  sons  of  Sir  George 
Hoskins,  a  Herefordshire  baronet,  a  son  of  the  Hon. 
H.  F.  Thynne,  a  son  of  Sir  Herbert  Croft,  Bart.,  of 
Herefordshire,  and  a  son  of  Sir  John  Stapylton,  Bart., 
of  Boroughbridge,  Yorkshire.  The  Society  generally 
took  measures  to  assure  themselves  that  the  servitudes 
were  of  a  bond-fide  character.  In  1720,  Matthew,  son 
of  Sir  John  Hawkins  (Warden,  1712),  applied  for 
admission  as  having  been  an  apprentice  to  his  father, 
but  upon  objection  being  raised  that  he  had  not  lived 
with  Sir  John  during  the  asserted  apprenticeship,  his 
petition  was  rejected.  In  1730  it  was  reported  that 
a  son  of  Edward  Fry,  then  Mayor  (past  Treasurer  and 
Warden),  had  been  a  mariner  during  the  whole  term  of 
his  apprenticeship  to  his  father,  when  it  was  resolved 
that  he  should  not  be  admitted.  (In  neither  case  was 
the  candidate  eligible  by  birth,  as  each  had  been  born 
before  his  father  became  a  member.)  The  enrolments 
of  three  other  indentures  were  cancelled  on  the  same 
day,  because  two  of  the  youths  concerned  were  serving 
as  sailors,  and  the  other  was  acting  as  an  attorney  in 
London.  In  1765  a  standing  order  was  made,  under 
which  no  apprentice  was  to  be  admitted  unless  he  had 
paid  an  apprentice  fee  of  £300,  or  was  a  near  relative 
of  his  master,  and  this  Ordinance  was  enforced  on  two 
or  three  occasions. 

In  addition  to  the  ordinary  members  of  the  Hall, 
the  Society  from  time  to  time  created  many  honorary 
freemen,  including  members  of  the  Royal  Family 
visiting  the  city,  eminent  noblemen  and  statesmen, 



distinguished  admirals,  local  members  of  Parliament, 
and  persons  who  had  rendered  services  to  the  Society. 
A  chronological  list  is  appended.  In  the  cases  of 
Frederick,  Prince  of  Wales,  and  Edward,  Duke  of 
York,  the  father  and  brother  of  George  the  Third,  the 
certificates  of  freedom  were  presented  in  gold  boxes. 

1705  Edward  Colston,  jun. 
1707  Francis  Colston. 

1711  Capt.  John  Paul. 

1712  2d  Duke  of  Beaufort. 
1727  John  Scrope,  M.P. 

1738  H.R.H. the  Princeof Wales. 
1742  Rt.  Hon.  Edw.  Southwell. 
Serj.  Foster,  Recorder. 

1749  William  Wansey. 

1750  Earl  of  Halifax, -\ 

T      j  T->        1-  Lords  of 

Lord  Dupplm,     V 

F.Fane,  J    Trade' 

1755  Lord  Ducie,  Ld.  Lieut. 

Robert  Nugent,  M.P. 

Adm.  Lord  Anson. 
1757  Thos.  Fane,  Hall  Clerk 

(Earl  of  Westmorland). 
1759  Lord  Chedworth. 

Hon.  J.  Spencer 
(Earl  Spencer). 

(Sir)  Jarrit  Smith,  M.P. 

1762  H.R.H.  the  Duke  of  York. 
Norborne  Berkeley 

(Lord  Botetourt). 

1763  C.Townshend,  Ld.  of  Trade. 

1764  G.  Grenville,  Premier. 

1765  Earl  Poulet. 
Lord  Hilsborough, 

Ld.  of  Trade. 
Lord  Burghersh 

(Fane's  son). 

1766  Marq.  of  Rockingham, 

Duke  of  Grafton, 

Sec.  of  State. 









H.  S.  Conway,  Sec.  State. 
W.  Dowdeswell, 

Ch.  of  the  Exchequer. 
Sir  W.  Meredith, 

Lord  of  the  Admiralty. 
Sir  G.  Saville. 
W.  Pitt  (Earl  of  Chatham). 
Sir  W.  Draper,  K.B. 
George  Prescott. 
M.  Brickdale,  M.P. 
Sir  C.  K.  Tynte,  M.P. 
R.  H.  Coxe,  M.P. 
Ed.  Southwell,  M.P. 

(Lord  de  Clifford). 
Duke  of  Kingston. 
5th  Duke  of  Beaufort. 
Edmund  Burke,  M.P. 
Lord  North,  Premier. 
Earl  of  Berkeley,  Ld.  Lieut. 
Earl  of  Suffolk,  Sec.  State. 
Earl  of  Sandwich,  First 

Lord  of  the  Admiralty. 
Earl  of  Sussex  (Bristol 

freeman  by  marriage). 
Admiral  Rodney. 
Admiral  Lord  Hood. 
Admiral  Sir  F.  Drake. 
John  Purrier. 
Lord  Chanc.  Thurlow. 
Wm.  Pitt,  Premier. 
Lord  Camden. 
Marq.  Worcester,  M.P. 
Lord  Sheffield,  M.P. 
C.  Bragge  (Bathurst),  M.P. 
Admiral  Lord  Duncan. 


226  THE   SOCIETY    IN 

Questions  as  to  the  annual  festivities  of  the  Society 
first  occur  in  the  minutes  of  1720.  Up  to  that  time,  the 
members,  after  enjoying  a  substantial  dinner  in  the  Hall 
on  Charter  Day,  were  accustomed  to  conduct  the  new 
Master  to  his  residence,  where  he  was  expected  to  provide 
them  with  a  "  treat,"  or  "evening  entertainment,"  to 
wind  up  the  day's  proceedings.  The  convivial  habits  of 
the  age  being  borne  in  mind,  it  is  not  surprising  that  this 
arrangement  was  regarded  by  fervent  devotees  of  Bacchus 
as  involving  an  unprofitable  waste  of  time.  It  was  at  all 
events  resolved  that  future  Masters  should  pay  the  Society 
ten  guineas  each  in  lieu  of  the  treat,  and  that  the  evening 
potation  should  thenceforth  take  place  in  the  Hall  at  a 
convenient  interval  after  the  early  dinner.  It  was  further 
determined  that  each  Master  should  have  liberty  to  invite 
the  wives  of  the  members  to  partake  of  the  annual 
banquet.  This  innovation,  though  doubtless  satisfactory 
to  the  Benedicts  of  the  Society,  soon  excited  the  envy 
of  bachelors,  and  in  1724  a  motion  was  made  that  each 
unmarried  member  should  be  allowed  to  introduce  a 
lady  on  the  same  occasion.  The  discontented  minority 
were,  however,  defeated.  In  1727  they  reventilated  their 
grievances,  asking  that  liberty  should  at  least  be  granted 
them  to  bring  their  sisters,  or  the  daughters  of  other 
members,  to  supper ;  but  in  this  also  they  were  unsuc- 
cessful. That  domestic  harmony  did  not  prevail  whilst 
the  ostracised  young  ladies  were  kept  out  in  the  cold 
is  significantly  indicated  by  the  Hall's  resolution  in 
October,  1730,  which  suppressed  lady  guests  altogether. 
Household  tempests  appear  to  have  followed ;  and  in  the 
following  year  the  married  majority,  in  restoring  their 
mates  to  their  places  at  the  dinner  table,  conceded  to 
widowers  and  bachelors  the  privilege  of  bringing  their 
own  daughters  or  sisters  to  supper.  And  in  1732  the 


younger  members  were  allowed  to  be  accompanied  by 
the  daughters  of  their  senior  colleagues,  which  was  of 
course  the  object  at  which  the  ingenuous  philanderers 
had  been  driving  from  the  outset.  The  concord  thus 
established  continued  until  1744,  when,  for  some  unex- 
plained reason,  the  usual  dinner  was  abolished,  and 
orders  were  given  for  a  supper  and  ball,  to  which  the 
ladies  already  qualified  to  enter  the  Hall  were  to  receive 
invitations.  The  Treasurer  at  this  period  was  so  reticent 
in  regard  to  the  character  and  objects  of  his  disburse- 
ments that  the  expenditure  on  these  festivities  cannot 
be  discovered.  Something  must  have  occurred,  however, 
to  cause  dissatisfaction,  for  the  Hall,  in  the  following 
year,  refused  its  sanction  both  to  a  dinner  and  a  supper. 
Nevertheless,  balls  on  a  grander  scale  than  before,  to 
which  some  of  the  neighbouring  county  gentry  were 
invited,  took  place  in  the  three  years  ending  in  1748, 
when  they  also  were  discontinued  so  far  as  the  Society 
were  concerned.  Their  admirers  were  thus  driven  to 
maintain  them  by  private  subscription,  and  the  Hall  was 
several  times  granted  for  such  entertainments,  dinners 
and  suppers  in  the  meanwhile  being  entirely  suspended. 
In  1761  a  motion  to  revive  the  banquet  was  defeated 
by  the  casting-vote  of  the  Master ;  a  proposal  for  a  ball 
was  also  negatived ;  and  both  subjects  thenceforth  dis- 
appear from  the  minutes. 

There  being  abundant  evidence  of  the  exuberant 
outlay  of  the  Corporation  on  feasts  and  entertainments 
during  the  period  just  dealt  with,  the  frugality  of  the 
Hall  is  not  unworthy  of  note.  But  the  tastes  and 
habits  of  the  age  could  not  be  wholly  suppressed.  At 
the  annual  audit  of  the  Society's  accounts,  it  had 
long  been  usual  to  provide  a  dinner  for  the  gentlemen 
who  devoted  much  time  and  labour  to  the  examination 

228  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

of  the  accounts.  The  number  of  auditors  rarely 
exceeded  eight,  and  the  cost  of  the  repast,  down  to 
1745,  amounted  to  only  about  £12.  But  after  the 
annual  Hall  dinner  was  abolished,  the  cost  of  the 
auditors'  feast  developed  prodigiously.  It  reached 
about  £25  in  1753,  and  £36  in  1754;  and  in  1759, 
when  there  was  a  turtle  costing  £26,  and  a  Gargantuan 
wine  bill,  the  total  rose  to  £99.  Large  outlays  followed 
in  succeeding  years,  until  at  length,  in  1767,  the  enter- 
tainment cost  the  Hall  nearly  ^139,  a  sum  far  exceeding 
the  cost  of  entertaining  the  entire  Society  forty  years 
earlier.  The  minutes  are  silent  on  the  subject,  but  it 
is  significant  that  the  item  for  the  audit  dinner  thence- 
forth disappears  from  the  accounts. 

As  might  be  expected  in  a  numerous  confederacy, 
the  general  prosperity  of  the  Society,  especially  during 
the  first  three-quarters  of  the  century,  did  not  prevent 
the  occurrence  of  many  of  those  personal  reverses  that 
are  unavoidable  in  all  branches  of  human  enterprise, 
and  particularly  imperil  the  career  of  an  adventurous 
merchant.  Whenever  a  member,  or  the  family  of  a 
deceased  member,  was  overcome  by  misfortune,  the 
Hall  appears  to  have  lent  a  sympathetic  ear  to  an 
appeal  for  relief.  One  of  the  earliest  pensions  to  an 
impoverished  member  was  conceded  in  1717  to  Sir 
John  Knight  (Warden,  1681),  of  somewhat  dubious 
reputation,  who  was  voted  an  annuity  of  ^20  "  during 
pleasure  and  no  longer."  (He  died  a  few  months 
afterwards.)  Four  gentlemen  who  had  served  the  office 
of  Master  were  amongst  the  subsequent  applicants,  and 
it  became  customary  to  grant  an  additional  sum  on 
such  occasions.  No  less  than  thirty-nine  pensions  to 
members  or  to  their  widows  or  children  were  conceded 
during  the  century. 


Until  the  opening  of  the  Assembly  Rooms  in  Prince's 
Street  in  1754,  the  Society's  Hall  was  the  only  place  in 
the  city  conveniently  adapted  for  public  banquets  and 
entertainments.  The  Corporation,  being  destitute  of 
any  accommodation  of  this  kind  until  the  opening  of  the 
Mansion  House  in  1786,  held  their  civic  feasts  in  the 
Hall,  by  virtue  of  a  covenant  inserted  in  the  Wharfage 
leases  of  1712  and  1764.  Applications  to  make  use  of 
it  for  dinners  and  public  meetings  were  frequently  made 
by  other  persons,  and  were  rarely  refused.  In  1702  it 
was  granted  in  a  single  resolution  to  the  Presidents  of 
the  Bristol,  the  Gloucestershire,  and  the  Somerset  Feasts, 
then  held  annually.  From  a  paper  found  among  Mr. 
Seyer's  MSS.,  it  appears  that  winter  balls  were  estab- 
lished in  the  Hall  about  1737,  and,  as  has  been  already 
stated,  many  private  dances  took  place  there  at  a  later 
period.  In  1777  the  Hall  was  granted  for  "the  Anchor 
entertainment,"  and  that  Society  held  eleven  dinners 
there  in  the  twelve  following  years.  In  1775  and 
1780  similar  favours  were  granted  to  the  Dolphin 

The  Clerks  of  the  Society  during  the  period  under 
review  may  be  briefly  recorded.  In  1701,  on  the  death 
of  Francis  Yeamans,  the  office  was  conferred  upon  Henry 
Fane,  a  gentleman  of  noble  descent,  who  was  in  his  turn 
succeeded  by  his  son,  Thomas  Fane,  in  1726.  The  latter, 
who  acquired  a  fortune  as  a  lawyer,  also  enjoyed  the 
valuable  sinecure  office  of  Customer  Inwards  at  Bristol, 
was  for  some  years  a  member  of  Parliament,  became  heir- 
presumptive  to  the  Earldom  of  Westmorland,  and  is 
mentioned  as  having  on  one  occasion  visited  the  city  in 
great  state,  riding  in  a  coach  and  six.  In  1757,  in  view 
of  his  approaching  elevation  to  the  House  of  Lords,  he 
resigned  his  Clerkship,  which  was  conferred  upon  his  legal 


partner,  Samuel  Worrall,  who  had  long  performed  the 
duties.  Mr.  Worrall,  who  was  also  the  chief  of  the 
Bristol  Stamp  Office,  became  a  partner  in  a  local  banking 
firm  in  1766,  and  through  his  lucrative  practice  as  a 
lawyer,  and  various  profitable  speculations  in  land  (com- 
memorated in  one  case  by  the  name  of  Worrall  Road, 
Clifton),  he  amassed  considerable  wealth.  In  1786  the 
Society  summarily  dismissed  him  from  office,  ostensibly 
for  having  used  disrespectful  language  respecting  Mr. 
George  Daubeny,  and  refusing  to  apologise.  Mr.  Daubeny 
had  lost  his  seat  as  member  for  Bristol  a  few  months 
previously,  to  the  extreme  exasperation  of  his  adherents, 
while  Worrall  had  been  an  active  opponent.  The  vacancy 
was  filled  by  the  appointment  of  Mr.  Jeremiah  Osborne, 
who  died  in  April,  1798,  when  his  son  John,  who  owing  to 
his  father's  illness  had  been  appointed  joint  clerk  in  1796, 
succeeded  to  the  office. 

Although  the  Society  had  established  a  school  "  for 
the  children  of  mariners"  previous  to  1595,  it  is  rarely 
mentioned  in  the  minute  books.  The  schoolmaster,  in 
1708,  was  dismissed  for  keeping  a  public-house,  and  a 
successor  was  appointed  at  the  former  salary  of  ^2,  with 
a  small  house,  which  served  as  well  for  school  as  for 
dwelling.  In  1723,  an  old  kitchen  under  the  Hall  was 
fitted  up  and  long  used  for  both  those  purposes.  The 
school,  which  is  styled  the  "  Writing  School,"  was  con- 
sidered in  so  satisfactory  a  condition  in  1752  that  the 
salary  of  the  master  was  raised  to  £5,  and  the  stipend 
was  increased  to  £10  in  1764,  when  fifty  pupils  were  in 
attendance.  Long  previous  to  that  date,  however, 
namely  in  1733,  the  Society  had  established  another 
school  for  the  special  teaching  of  mathematics  and 
navigation,  having  come  into  possession  of  two  sums, 
amounting  together  to  £480,  which  had  been  bequeathed 


for  that  purpose  by  a  Lady  Holworthy  and  Captain 
John  Price.  The  teacher  in  this  school  received  a  salary 
of  £20,  but  the  two  institutions,  though  independent  of 
each  other  for  several  years,  were  eventually  amalga- 
mated. In  spite  of  the  free  instruction  offered  to  young 
sailors,  the  navigation  department  was  frequently  almost 
wholly  deserted. 



THE  energetic  but  fruitless  exertions  of  the  Hall 
during  the  eighteenth  century  to  promote  the  improve- 
ment of  the  harbour  have  been  summarily  sketched  in 
the  previous  chapter.  The  subject  was  revived  by  the 
Standing  Committee  in  July,  1801,  when  the  Clerk  was 
directed  to  inquire,  through  the  Mayor,  why  the  Corpora- 
tion had  not  appointed  a  committee  to  consider  "  the 
scheme  for  damming  the  river,"  which,  from  the  wording 
of  the  resolution,  seems  to  have  been  previously  promised. 
In  March,  1802,  the  Standing  Committee  produced 
a  lengthy  report,  from  which  it  appears  that  the 
Corporation  and  the  Society  had  referred  plans  for 
docks  by  various  engineers  to  Mr.  Jessop,  whose  first 
design  for  a  floating  harbour  was  described  at  page  212. 
Jessop,  as  was  to  be  expected,  disapproved  of  the  plans 
of  his  rivals,  and  brought  forward  a  new  project  conceived 
by  himself,  limiting  the  proposed  Float  to  that  portion 
of  the  Avon  (twenty-two  acres)  extending  from  Rownham 
to  the  bottom  of  Prince's  Street,  but  including  the  Froom 
branch  (six  acres),  together  with  a  dock  of  nine  acres 
in  Canons'  Marsh,  and  an  entrance  basin  of  six  acres 
at  Rownham.  These  works,  including  a  "New  Cut" — 
destined  to  convey  the  river  Avon  from  Prince's  Street 
downwards,  so  as  to  give  access  to  the  Grove  and  Back 
without  entering  the  Float — would,  in  the  projector's 
opinion,  "  meet  every  demand  for  extension  that  may 
probably  be  expected  for  a  century  to  come."  "  If  all 


THE    SOCIETY    IN    THE    NINETEENTH    CENTURY.         233 

the  sewers  in  the  town  were  to  discharge  into  the 
harbour  .  .  .  the  most  experienced  chemist  could 
not  detect  it,"  but,  to  mitigate  prejudices,  he  provided 
for  making  a  sewer  of  the  length  of  half  a  mile.  The 
total  cost  of  the  design  was  estimated  at  £150,840, 
exclusive  of  the  purchase  of  eighty-five  acres  of  land. 
The  Committee  went  on  to  report  that  they  and  their 
corporate  colleagues  were  unanimously  of  opinion  that 
Jessop's  plan  was  the  most  eligible  yet  produced,  and 
suggested  that  the  necessary  funds  should  be  obtained 
by  raising  £150,000  by  shares  and  £50,000  by  loans, 
the  interest  on  the  whole  to  be  guaranteed  by  imposing 
a  tonnage  due  on  shipping,  and  a  rate  on  household 
property  in  the  city.  Although  the  proposed  share 
capital  was  speedily  subscribed,  many  supporters  of 
improvement  objected  to  an  arrangement  which  would 
allow  merchants  to  escape  dock  tolls  by  sending  their 
ships  to  the  Grove  and  Back,  and  insisted  that  the 
entire  harbour  should  be  embraced  in  the  scheme.  The 
Standing  Committee  consequently  reported  in  August 
that  Jessop  had  been  again  consulted,  and  appended 
his  enlarged  proposal,  by  which  the  intended  new  course 
of  the  Avon  was  to  commence  near  Temple  Meads, 
where  a  dam  was  to  be  constructed  across  the  river. 
The  whole  of  the  old  bed  of  the  stream  within  the  city, 
nearly  two  miles  in  length,  might  thus  be  converted  into 
a  Float,  seventy  acres  in  area  exclusive  of  the  entrance 
basin  ;  and  a  dock  in  Canons'  Marsh  was  now  considered 
unnecessary.  Provision  had  also  been  made  for  inter- 
cepting most  of  the  sewage  discharged  into  the  river 
above  Bristol  Bridge,  "from  whence  almost  all  the 
brewers  and  distillers  are  supplied "(!),  by  a  sewer 
emptying  into  the  Avon  at  Totterdown.  A  "Feeder" 
would  also  be  needed  to  replenish  the  Float.  The 

234  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

estimated  outlay  was  thus  increased  to  £2 12,470, 
exclusive  of  the  purchase  of  170  acres  of  land,  and 
of  the  mills  at  Hanham  and  Conham  injured  by  the 
damming  of  the  river.  The  Committee  concluded  by 
recommending  the  adoption  of  the  plan,  which  they 
believed  could  be  completed  for  £300,000,  and  suggested 
that  the  subscribers  to  the  previous  project  should  be 
invited  to  sanction  its  enlargement,  and  to  increase 
their  subscriptions.  The  Hall  confirmed  the  report, 
and  instructed  the  Committee  to  apply  to  Parliament 
for  the  requisite  powers,  the  Corporation  having 
apparently  declined  all  responsibility.  Subscriptions 
amounting  to  £250,000  having  been  promised,  a  Bill 
was  introduced  into  Parliament  in  1803  under  the 
Society's  auspices.  The  consent  of  the  Common 
Council  to  its  promotion  is  stated  to  have  been  given 
by  a  majority  of  a  single  vote;  and  on  the  measure 
being  brought  before  a  committee  of  the  House  of 
Commons,  many  merchants  and  shipowners,  including 
the  influential  names  of  Bright,  Gibbs,  Baillie,  Protheroe, 
King,  and  Pinney,  strongly  condemned  the  proposal 
for  placing  the  entire  harbour  in  the  hands  of  a  private 
company,  contending  that  their  vessels  did  not  require 
dock  accommodation.  Other  citizens  asserted  that  the 
proposed  rate  on  property  of  sixpence  in  the  pound 
was  as  unjustifiable  as  it  was  unprecedented.  The 
Bill,  however,  passed  both  Houses — an  audacious  clause 
levying  dues  on  shipping  trading  to  Newport  being 
first  excised — and  received  the  Royal  Assent. 

Under  its  provisions  the  Bristol  Dock  Company  came 
into  existence,  the  twenty- seven  directors  of  which  were 
nominated  in  equal  parts  by  the  Corporation,  the  Society, 
and  the  shareholders.  The  capital  was  fixed  at  £300,000, 
and  the  Act  stipulated  that  the  two  corporate  bodies 


should  have  no  interest  in  the  dividends.  The  ceremony 
of  turning  the  "first  sod"  took  place  on  May  ist,  1804; 
but  financial  difficulties  were  encountered  at  an  early 
date.  The  authorised  loan  of  £50,000  could  not  be 
raised,  and  £14,500  of  the  share  capital  proving  irre- 
coverable, the  shareholders  had  to  make  up  both  these 
deficiencies.  This  was  but  the  beginning  of  pecuniary 
embarrassments.  The  cost  of  every  detail  of  the  scheme 
proved  to  have  been  grossly  underestimated.  The  two 
basins,  at  Rownham  and  Trim  Mills,  alone  cost  more 
than  £100,000  in  excess  of  Jessop's  figures,  although  the 
area  of  the  former  was  reduced ;  there  was  an  equally 
gigantic  excess  in  the  outlay  for  the  "New  Cut";  the 
purchases  of  land  involved  an  unforeseen  expenditure 
of  £66,000 ;  and  the  Feeder  cost  more  than  five  times 
the  anticipated  sum.  In  short,  the  original  capital  of 
£300,000  defrayed  only  one  -  half  of  the  outlay  on  the 

To  meet  the  formidable  deficit,  the  directors,  in  1807, 
applied  for  another  Act,  empowering  them  to  raise  fresh 
capital  on  the  security  of  greatly  enhanced  charges  on 
shipping  and  goods ;  but  though  a  majority  of  the  Hall 
approved  of  the  measure,  it  was  opposed  by  the  Corpo- 
ration and  rejected  by  the  House  of  Commons.  In 
1808,  however,  a  Bill  deemed  less  objectionable  in  its 
details  passed  unopposed.  The  capital  of  the  Company 
was  thus  increased  to  £500,000 ;  and  by  a  third  statute, 
obtained  in  1809,  the  amount  was  raised  to  £600,000, 
half  the  sum  representing  loans.  On  May  ist,  1809, 
the  dock  was  certified  to  be  completed. 

The  benefits  conferred  on  commerce  by  the  spacious 
Floating  Harbour  were  unquestionably  extensive.  On 
the  other  hand,  the  dues  levied  on  vessels  and  goods 
to  secure  interest  on  the  capital  were  so  onerous  that 

236  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

the  charges,  aggravated  as  they  were  by  the  exorbitant 
Town  Dues  levied  by  the  Corporation,  crippled  the 
development  of  the  port  by  diverting  trade  to  places 
more  liberally  managed.  As  an  example,  it  was  stated 
in  1818  that  a  large  local  business  might  have  been 
transacted  in  indigo,  which  was  extensively  used  by  the 
West  of  England  clothiers ;  but  that  the  dues  imposed 
on  it,  being  seven  times  greater  than  those  levied  at 
Liverpool,  had  put  a  stop  to  importations.  A  few  years 
later,  when  steamboats  had  begun  to  ply  to  Ireland, 
a  little  packet  of  270  tons  burden,  sailing  weekly  to 
and  from  Cork,  was  charged  £468  per  annum  for  dock 
dues  and  £104  for  Mayor's  dues ;  while  a  ship  of  400 
tons,  making  a  yearly  voyage  to  the  West  Indies,  paid 
£15  6s.  Sd.  in  respect  of  both  imposts.  With  a  view 
to  pressing  for  relief  from  many  grievances,  several  influ- 
ential firms  co-operated  in  1823  in  the  establishment  of 
a  Chamber  of  Commerce,  of  which  Mr.  Joseph  Reynolds 
was  the  first  President.  One  of  the  earliest  publications 
of  this  body  was  an  elaborate  paper,  drawn  up  in  concert 
with  a  committee  of  the  Society,  showing  the  comparative 
port  charges  at  London,  Liverpool,  Hull,  and  Bristol, 
thus  bringing  into  relief  the  local  excess  of  taxation. 
The  first  table  exhibited  the  amounts  payable  on  the 
importation  of  forty -four  articles  of  merchandise,  by 
which  it  appeared  that  if  the  whole  were  landed  at 
Bristol  the  charges  on  shipping  and  goods  would  amount 
to  £5 1 5,608,  whereas  the  total  at  Liverpool  would  be 
£231,800,  at  London  £210,098,  and  at  Hull  £147,587. 
Another  table  showed  the  total  Bristol  charges  on  an 
average  year's  import  of  the  six  principal  articles  brought 
into  the  Avon  —  tobacco,  wine,  sugar,  wool,  coffee,  and 
currants.  The  aggregate  was  £10,155,  while  the  charges 
on  a  like  import  into  London  would  have  been  ,£6,354, 


at  Liverpool  £6,275,  an^  at  Hull  jfS^S1-  ^n  some 
articles  the  Bristol  imports  were  practically  prohibitive. 
Thus,  on  five  tons  of  indigo  the  London  dues  were  £3, 
whilst  at  Bristol  they  were  £52  ;  on  five  tons  of  cochineal 
the  comparison  was  £3  2S.  6d.  against  £74,  and  on  200 
bales  of  silk  £16  against  £345.  When  these  statistics 
were  laid  before  the  Common  Council  early  in  1824, 
with  a  prayer  for  consideration,  the  only  result  was  a 
resolution  condemning  the  attitude  of  the  Chamber  of 
Commerce  as  hasty,  premature,  and  animated  by  hostile 
feelings.  The  Society  thereupon  resolved  upon  taking 
independent  action,  and  on  March  8th  the  Hall  approved 
of  an  emphatic  report  drawn  up  by  a  sub-committee, 
and  ordered  a  copy  to  be  transmitted  to  the  Corporation 
as  expressive  of  the  sentiments  of  the  Society. 

The  report  stated  that  after  a  careful  examination  of  the  charges 
made  in  other  ports,  it  was  the  decided  opinion  of  the  committee  that 
the  languor  and  comparative  decline  of  Bristol  trade  were  mainly 
attributable  to  the  Town  and  Mayor's  Dues.  The  former,  from  their 
heavy  amount  and  ad  valorem  assessment,  had  the  effect  of  depriving 
the  port  of  all  commerce  in  several  articles,  an  evil  that  might  be 
expected  to  extend  still  further,  as  the  internal  communication  with 
other  ports  was  becoming  daily  cheaper  and  more  convenient.  Foreign 
goods  were  also  brought  in  coastwise  instead  of  being  imported  direct, 
and  the  export  trade  of  the  adjoining  counties  was  unnaturally 
diverted  into  other  channels.  Even  the  staple  commodities  of  the 
city  formerly  exported  hence  were  sent  coastwise  for  shipment  at 
London  and  Liverpool.  The  Mayor's  Dues,  again,  bore  most  severely 
on  the  coasting  and  Irish  trades,  and  caused  traffic  to  be  confined  to 
small  and  least  profitable  vessels.  In  view  of  those  very  serious 
evils,  it  was  of  the  greatest  importance  that  the  dues  should  be 
materially  reduced,  being  objectionable  in  principle,  and  exactions 
for  which  no  equivalent  was  rendered.  And  being  levied  on 
Foreigners  —  all  non-freemen  being  considered  Foreigners  —  they 
became  doubly  oppressive,  and  provoked  a  resort  to  other  ports. 
Similar  dues  were  formerly  paid  at  the  city  gates  on  goods  arriving 
by  land,  and  "  foreigners  "  were  forbidden  to  trade  until  admitted  as 
freemen;  but  these  restraints  having  been  long  withdrawn,  the 

238  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

existing  charges,  of  similar  origin,  should  be  withdrawn  also.  These 
facts  should  be  laid  before  the  Corporation,  with  a  recommendation 
for  a  material  reduction,  and  also  for  lessening  charges  for  which  no 
service  was  performed,  such  as  the  fees  payable  to  bailiffs,  quay- 
wardens,  and  others,  which  were  most  oppressively  felt.  It  was 
believed  that  such  reductions  would  not,  in  the  end,  result  in  any 
material  reduction  of  revenue. 

The  Corporation  had  been  already  alarmed  by  the 
presentation  of  a  petition  to  the  House  of  Commons, 
praying  for  an  inquiry  into  the  causes  of  the  languishing 
condition  of  the  port,  and  had  resolved  on  warding  off 
further  attacks  by  introducing  a  Bill  into  Parliament, 
ostensibly  for  the  purpose  of  enabling  it  to  reduce  the 
civic  imposts,  but  really — its  opponents  contended — with 
the  object  of  obtaining  statutory  sanction  for  taxation 
which  many  citizens  held  to  be  illegally  imposed.  The 
Bill  was  laid  before  the  Standing  Committee  on  March 
i6th,  1824,  when  the  following  resolution  was  adopted  : — 

The  committee,  having  considered  the  Corporation  Bill,  .  .  . 
are  of  opinion  that  it  is  objectionable — Ist,  as  giving  legislative 
sanction  to  dues  which  are  believed  to  rest  solely  on  prescription; 
2^,  as  establishing  the  corporate  claim  to  a  larger  extent  than  it  has 
been  exercised,  since  it  is  well  known  that  for  a  long  period  only 
about  two -thirds  of  the  ad  valorem  dues  have  been  actually  collected ; 
and  3my,  because  the  Bill  imposes  no  obligation  on  the  Corporation  to 
reduce  the  dues.  Resolved :  "  That  these  objections  be  submitted 
to  the  Corporation,  not  from  any  apprehension  as  to  its  disposition 
and  intentions,  but  in  order  to  secure  that  the  relief  to  trade  should 
not  be  defeated  by  future  contingencies."  To  obtain  this  end  a 
schedule  of  the  proposed  reductions  should  be  appended  to  the  Bill ; 
and  if  this  cannot  be  done  in  time  for  the  present  Session,  the 
committee  would  prefer  submitting  to  a  delay,  rather  than  the  Bill 
should  be  pressed  forward  in  its  objectionable  state. 

The  Standing  Committee  transmitted  a  copy  of 
their  report  to  the  Chamber  of  Commerce,  which  was 
organising  an  opposition  to  the  Bill  with  the  cordial 
support  of  the  citizens,  £3,000  being  raised  by  sub- 


scription  to  carry  on  the  struggle  at  Westminster. 
But  the  document  was  accompanied  by  a  request  that 
it  should  not  be  published,  and  with  an  intimation 
that,  as  public  interests  would  be  best  consulted  by 
the  Society  preserving  an  independent  attitude,  it  must 
decline  the  Chamber's  request  for  co-operation.  At 
a  Hall  held  on  April  gth  the  committee's  resolutions 
were  approved  and  confirmed,  and  the  following  motion 
was  adopted : — 

It  being  understood  that  the  Corporation  do  not  intend  to  take 
powers  to  receive  more  than  two-thirds  of  the  twopence  in  the  pound 
payable  as  ad  valorem  duty,  Ordered  :  "  That  the  Hall,  relying  on  the 
good  faith  of  the  Corporation,  and  on  the  security  of  their  intention 
to  make  a  considerable  reduction  in  the  Town  and  Mayor's  Dues, 
will  relinquish  its  other  objections  provided  the  above  alteration  be 
introduced  into  the  Bill,  and  that  the  Corporation  consent  to  a 
package  rate  instead  of  the  ad  valorem  duty ;  and  the  Chamber  of 
Commerce  is  recommended  to  abandon  opposition  on  the  same 

The  leaders  of  the  Corporation  must  have  shown 
remarkable  alacrity  in  accepting  the  terms  of  the 
Society,  for  another  Hall  was  held  on  the  following 
day,  when  it  was  announced  that  the  civic  body  had 
assented  to  all  the  above  proposals.  A  request  of  the 
Chamber  of  Commerce  for  a  conference  on  other 
objectionable  features  of  the  Bill  was  thereupon  declined, 
and  it  was  resolved  "that  it  is  highly  expedient  that 
the  opposition  to  the  Bill  should  be  abandoned."  The 
result  seems  to  have  greatly  surprised  the  Chamber  of 
Commerce,  which  complained  that  the  Society  had 
surrendered  the  principles  it  had  hitherto  contended 
for ;  but  the  Standing  Committee  replied  that  the 
assumption  was  unfounded ;  and  the  Hall,  on  May  ist, 
re-echoed  this  assertion,  and  resolved  that  the  amended 
Bill  would  prove  highly  beneficial  to  trade  and  commerce. 

240  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

The  Chamber  of  Commerce  continuing  its  opposition 
to  the  measure,  the  Corporation  soon  afterwards  informed 
the  Society  that  the  progress  of  the  Bill  had  been 
suspended ;  and  it  was  in  fact  withdrawn.  It  was, 
however,  again  brought  forward  in  1826,  accompanied  by 
a  schedule  showing  the  intended  reductions  in  the  dues ; 
when  the  Society  undertook  to  promote  its  success,  and 
sent  up  petitions  in  its  favour.  The  Chamber  of 
Commerce  and  the  trading  interests,  on  the  other  hand, 
contended  that  the  proffered  abatements  left  the  dues 
excessive  as  compared  with  those  at  other  ports,  and  that 
the  real  object  of  the  Bill  was  to  secure  a  statutory  title 
to  illegal  exactions  for  which  no  equivalent  service  was 
rendered.  Great  local  weight  was  given  to  these  argu- 
ments by  the  fact  that  they  were  urged,  not  merely  by 
the  minority  of  Whigs  in  the  Corporation  and  the  Society, 
but  by  many  prominent  and  influential  Tory  merchants, 
who  were  much  more  zealous  in  denouncing  the  corporate 
policy  than  were  their  political  opponents.  And  the 
defiant  attitude  of  the  Common  Council  served  only  to 
deepen  the  public  discontent.  To  a  demand  that  in- 
formation should  be  rendered  as  to  the  administration 
of  the  large  sum  derived  from  taxation,  the  Corporation, 
the  members  of  which  were  self-elected,  and  refused  to 
publish  any  accounts  whatever,  retorted  through  their 
Parliamentary  counsel  that  the  port  dues,  as  well  as  all 
the  rest  of  the  civic  estates,  were  their  personal  property, 
"  as  much  as  any  estate  belonging  to  any  peer";  that 
even  Parliament  had  no  right  to  control  them  in  the 
expenditure  of  their  own  money;  and  that  the  claim  of 
the  people  of  Bristol  to  possess  any  interest  in  the  civic 
revenue  would  be  resisted  to  the  last  extremity.  The 
committee  of  the  House  of  Commons  nevertheless 
assented  to  the  request  of  the  Chamber  of  Commerce 


for  the  insertion  of  a  clause  in  the  measure  declaring 
that  the  Act  should  not  confer  a  better  title  to  the 
dues  than  was  previously  enjoyed  by  the  Corporation ; 
and  though  determined  efforts  were  made  to  delete  this 
provision,  it  was  approved  by  both  Houses.  The  Bill 
having  received  the  Royal  Assent,  the  product  of  the 
obnoxious  civic  imposts  was  reduced  from  about  ^5,500 
to  under  ^3,000  per  annum ;  and  the  Society  made  a 
simultaneous  abatement  of  25  per  cent,  in  the  cranage 

Owing  to  the  wide  differences  of  opinion  on  the  merits 
of  the  above  Bill  existing  amongst  members  of  the  Society, 
no  allusions  to  its  progress  occur  in  the  minutes  of  the 
Hall.  That  the  conflict  had  aroused  bitter  ill-feeling 
amongst  those  who  had  been  concerned  in  it  is  only  too 
certain.  A  Government  Commission  of  inquiry  into  the 
collection  and  management  of  the  Revenue  visited  the 
city  in  November,  1825,  when  the  exasperation  existing 
between  the  corporate  body  and  the  citizens  generally 
was  so  painfully  evident  that  the  chairman  of  the 
Commission,  Mr.  Wallace,  tendered  his  services  to 
promote  reconciliation  ;  and  suggested,  with  a  view  to 
restoring  harmony,  that  a  committee  should  be  appointed 
representing  the  views  of  the  Common  Council,  of  the 
Society,  and  of  the  Chamber  of  Commerce.  On  this 
proposal  being  communicated  to  the  Standing  Committee, 
a  resolution  was  forthwith  passed,  thanking  Mr.  Wallace 
for  his  intervention,  approving  of  his  advice,  and  recom- 
mending it  to  the  Hall,  which  at  once  assented  to 
co-operate.  The  Chamber  of  Commerce  also  cordially 
responded  to  the  overture.  But  the  Common  Council, 
a  few  days  later,  informed  Mr.  Wallace  that  negotiation 
was  useless,  seeing  that  the  differences  consisted,  on  the 
one  hand,  of  hostile  aggression  on  the  rights  and  property 


242  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

of  the  Corporation,  and,  on  the  other,  of  legitimate  defence 
of  ancient  privileges. 

Another  movement  for  increasing  the  accommodation 
of  the  port  seems  to  have  been  instigated  by  the  intro- 
duction of  steam  vessels,  which  became  numerous  in  1824. 
Four  years  later,  the  Chamber  of  Commerce  urged  the 
Government  to  select  Bristol  as  a  mail-packet  station  for 
Ireland,  and  on  the  postal  authorities  pointing  out  that 
the  application  could  not  be  entertained  unless  the  packets 
were  enabled  to  sail  at  a  fixed  hour  daily,  regardless  of 
the  state  of  the  tide,  the  Chamber  applied  for  the  Society's 
support  towards  the  construction  of  a  pier  at  Avonmouth. 
For  reasons  which  will  be  explained  hereafter,  the  relations 
of  the  two  bodies  were  then  by  no  means  cordial,  and  the 
Hall  contented  itself  by  replying  that  when  the  subject 
had  been  first  mooted,  in  1823,  it  had  suggested  a  pier  at 
Lamplighters'  Hall.  On  a  second  application,  in  1829, 
the  Standing  Committee  resolved  that  the  cost  of  a 
Channel  pier  would  be  very  heavy,  and  the  results 
unproductive,  but  recommended  that  if  the  Corporation 
and  the  Dock  Company  would  co-operate  with  the 
Chamber,  the  Hall  should  depute  two  of  its  members 
to  consider  a  feasible  project.  No  further  reference  to 
the  subject  occurs  until  1832,  when  Mr.  Brunei,  at  the 
request  of  local  authorities,  gave  evidence  before  a 
Parliamentary  Committee  on  the  packet  service,  and 
asserted  that  by  the  construction  of  a  pier  at  Portishead 
the  requirements  of  the  Post  Office  would  be  fully 
supplied.  By  the  Society's  exertions,  other  witnesses 
were  sent  up  to  give  similar  evidence,  and  to  defeat  the 
manoeuvres  of  the  Bristol  Steampacket  Company,  who 
wished  to  retain  the  Irish  service  in  their  own  hands. 
In  the  absence  of  local  enterprise,  the  mails  continued 
to  be  despatched  vid  Holyhead. 


In  November,  1833,  two  members  of  the  Royal 
Commission  on  Municipal  Corporations,  during  their 
inquiry  at  Bristol,  intimated  their  desire  to  be  informed 
of  the  nature  and  constitution  of  the  Society.  The 
Clerk  thereupon  informed  the  Standing  Committee  that 
in  his  opinion  the  Society  did  not  come  within  the  scope 
of  the  Commission ;  for  though  in  its  original  constitution 
it  partook  of  a  municipal  character,  having  power  to 
make  regulations  for  the  government  of  trade,  that 
character  had  been  long  lost,  there  being  no  trace  of  the 
exercise  of  such  powers  for  more  than  a  century.  The 
Master  and  other  members  nevertheless  waited  upon  the 
Commissioners,  laid  the  Society's  charters  before  them, 
and  gave  information  as  to  the  manner  of  admitting 
members,  and  other  matters.  But  when  a  further  request 
was  made  for  information  as  to  the  annual  produce  of  the 
dues  held  under  the  Corporation,  the  Hall  peremptorily 
refused  compliance,  declaring  that  any  disclosure  of  its 
affairs  would  be  a  dereliction  of  duty  and  an  infringement 
of  the  oath  of  office. 

During  the  investigation  into  the  proceedings  of  the 
civic  body  by  the  above  Commissioners,  the  effects  of 
the  port  charges  on  the  prosperity  of  the  city  were 
vividly  elucidated.  It  was  shown  that,  in  despite  of 
the  reductions  effected  in  the  corporate  dues,  the 
charges  on  an  average  year's  import  of  the  six  leading 
articles  of  local  commerce  amounted  to  .£9,864,  or 
upwards  of  50  per  cent,  in  excess  of  the  duties  on  the 
same  quantities  charged  at  London  and  at  Liverpool. 
The  results,  in  the  opinion  of  the  Commissioners,  were 
only  too  evident  in  the  condition  of  Bristol : — "  Far 
below  her  former  station  as  the  second  port  of  the 
empire,  she  now  has  to  sustain  a  mortifying  competition 
with  second-rate  ports  in  her  own  Channel.  .  .  .  Foreign 

244  THE    SOCIETY   IN 

produce  now  finds  its  way  to  Bristol  in  coasters  from 
neighbouring  ports ;  sometimes  it  is  brought  even  from 
Liverpool  or  London.  If  it  were  not  for  its  Irish  trade 
and  the  West  India  monopoly,  of  which  circumstances 
still  enable  Bristol  to  retain  its  share,  it  is  probable 
that  the  floating  harbour  .  .  .  would  soon  open 
only  for  the  reception  of  a  few  coasters  and  fishing 
vessels."  The  situation,  moreover,  was  steadily  growing 
more  serious.  The  value  of  English  goods  exported 
from  the  city,  which  had  been  £315,000  in  1822,  sank 
to  £205,000  in  1833 ;  the  once  magnificent  fleet  of 
foreign-going  ships  had  shrunk  to  about  thirty  sail, 
whilst  the  warehouses,  once  filled  with  merchandise,  so 
greatly  exceeded  requirements  that  their  owners  could 
not  realise  one  per  cent,  yearly  on  their  investments. 
The  depression  provoked  another  agitation  against  port 
charges,  led  by  the  Chamber  of  Commerce ;  and  the 
gravity  of  the  complaints  was  to  some  extent  recognised 
in  July,  1834,  by  the  Docks  Committee,  which  reduced 
the  dues  on  certain  classes  of  goods,  though  still 
maintaining  heavy  imposts  on  sugar,  tobacco  and  wine ; 
while  goods  brought  in  coastwise  were  charged  double 
the  rates  levied  at  Liverpool.  The  pressure  placed 
upon  the  Corporation  had  more  satisfactory  results. 
One  of  the  last  important  resolutions  of  the  old 
Corporation,  previous  to  its  extinction  in  1835,  ordered 
a  large  reduction  of  the  Town  Dues,  which  were  wholly 
abolished  as  regarded  exports ;  but  unhappily  the  latter 
concession  was  not  made  until  the  local  export  trade 
had  almost  disappeared,  the  receipts  from  this  source 
in  the  previous  year  having  been  only  £466. 

Having  considered  the  above  reliefs,  the  Society,  in 
September,  1834,  appointed  a  sub-committee  to  consider 
the  wharfage  and  cranage  rates.  In  March,  1837,  this 


committee,  after  holding  many  conferences  with  the 
Corporation,  reported  that  in  view  of  the  urgency  of 
the  demand  for  reduced  cranage  dues,  they  had  made 
terms  for  the  immediate  surrender  of  the  lease.  (The 
use  of  the  cranes  was  thenceforth  made  voluntary 
instead  of  compulsory,  and  the  charge  for  user  was 
reduced  one-fourth.)  In  consequence  of  a  pending 
inquiry  into  charities,  the  sub-committee  deemed  it 
prudent  to  defer  a  reduction  of  the  wharfage  dues,  but 
had  intimated  to  the  Corporation  that  the  lease  might 
be  sold  below  its  value  for  the  sake  of  benefiting  trade. 
In  the  meantime,  the  Society  undertook  an  important 
work  for  the  improvement  of  navigation — the  partial 
removal  of  the  "  Round  Point,"  a  huge  projection  on 
the  Clifton  shore  of  the  Avon,  which  was  the  scene  of 
many  shipping  disasters.  Upwards  of  .£3,000  were 
expended  in  removing  vast  quantities  of  rock,  and  the 
Hall's  exertions  were  gratefully  acknowledged  by  the 
Corporation  and  the  Chamber  of  Commerce. 

The  launching  at  Bristol  of  the  first  Transatlantic 
steamship,  the  Great  Western,  in  July,  1837,  and  the 
departure  of  that  vessel  for  New  York  in  the  following 
April,  indicated  that  a  spirit  of  enterprise  had  at  length 
reawakened  amongst  the  citizens.  The  adventure  was 
also  destined  to  prove  that  existing  conditions  rendered 
successful  enterprise  practically  hopeless.  Although  the 
Great  Western  was  only  of  1,340  tons  measurement,  she 
could  not  safely  make  use  of  the  floating  harbour,  and 
was  compelled  to  lie  at  Kingroad;  yet  the  Dock  Company 
demanded  payment  of  the  full  dues  (£106  per  voyage), 
declaring  that  they  had  no  power  to  make  abatements. 
These  disheartening  circumstances  led  to  the  appointment 
of  a  committee  composed  of  members  of  the  Corporation, 
of  the  Society,  and  of  the  Steamship  Company,  and  in 

246  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

accordance  with  the  suggestions  of  this  body  the  Hall 
resolved,  in  June,  1839,  that  the  Float  ought  to  be 
provided  with  a  larger  entrance ;  that  a  dock,  "  not 
higher  than  Sea  Mills,"  should  be  constructed  to  accom- 
modate large  vessels ;  and  that  the  tonnage  dues  on  ships 
should  be  materially  reduced.  The  Dock  Company 
replied  with  a  simple  non  possumus,  adding,  after  further 
pressure,  that  the  required  advantages  would  be  best 
effected  by  the  purchase  of  the  Company's  property. 
The  Hall  thereupon  resolved,  in  November,  1839,  "that 
the  Society  would  join  heartily  with  other  public  bodies 
in  reducing  rates  and  encouraging  trade,  and  would  be 
ready  to  render  its  cordial  assistance  when  any  plan 
should  be  matured."  The  Society  afterwards  made  two 
handsome  donations  towards  furthering  the  objects  in 

A  project  was  started  in  1840  for  the  construction 
of  a  pier  at  Portishead ;  but  though  an  Act  was  obtained 
for  that  purpose,  the  scheme  failed  from  want  of  support. 
An  attempt  to  obtain  a  reduction  of  the  Town  Dues 
on  the  cargoes  of  the  Great  Western  having  been  unsuc- 
cessful, the  owners,  in  February,  1842,  resolved  that  the 
vessel  should  sail  alternately  from  Bristol  and  Liverpool ; 
and  as  the  expenses  at  the  latter  port  were  found  to  be 
.£200  per  voyage  below  those  at  the  former,  the  ship  was 
soon  afterwards  removed  entirely  to  the  Mersey.  The 
second  steamer  built  by  the  Company,  the  Great  Britain, 
being  of  much  increased  tonnage,  was  placed  from  the 
outset  at  Liverpool. 

After  a  lengthy  suspension  of  effort,  Mr.  Richard 
P.  King  (Master,  1851),  whilst  serving  the  office  of 
Mayor  in  1845,  induced  the  Corporation  to  renew  its 
endeavours  for  the  emancipation  of  the  port,  suggesting 
the  acquirement  of  the  Dock  Company's  estate.  But 


at  a  subsequent  meeting  of  the  Council  it  was  reported 
that  the  negotiations  for  that  purpose  had  proved  abortive. 
Although  the  annual  dividends  of  the  Company  during 
the  preceding  twenty -three  years  had  averaged  only 
£2,  is.  $d.  per  cent.,  an  offer  of  a  guaranteed  dividend 
of  2i  per  cent,  had  been  rejected,  the  board  demanding 
3  per  cent.  The  Society  appointed  a  committee  in 
December  to  consider  what  steps  should  be  taken  to 
assist  the  Corporation,  and  in  February,  1846,  the 
Council  besought  the  directors  to  allow  the  amount  of 
the  dividend  to  be  decided  by  arbitration.  A  majority 
of  the  board,  however,  rejected  the  proposal,  and  the 
negotiation  collapsed. 

As  the  civic  body  showed  unwillingness  to  take  further 
action,  a  meeting  of  influential  merchants  and  traders 
was  held  on  September  2Qth,  1846,  under  the  presidency 
of  an  ardent  advocate  of  progress,  Mr.  Robert  Bright, 
when  it  was  resolved  to  form  a  Free  Port  Association 
with  the  object  of  recovering  the  control  of  the  harbour. 
The  movement  was  enthusiastically  welcomed  by  citizens 
of  all  ranks,  party  politics  being  generally  ignored  in  view 
of  the  public  good.  A  committee  was  soon  afterwards 
nominated  by  the  Council  to  act  in  conjunction  with 
Mr.  Bright  and  the  delegates  appointed  by  the  ratepayers 
at  ward  meetings,  and  this  committee,  in  January,  1847, 
offered  fresh  illustrations  of  the  local  burdens  on  com- 
merce. At  that  date  the  imposts  on  the  chief  imported 
articles  were  stated  to  be  85.  Sd.  per  ton  at  Bristol, 
against  45.  6d.  at  Liverpool  and  is.  j^d.  at  Hull.  The 
Corporation  thenceforth  took  up  the  question  in  earnest. 
After  prolonged  negotiations  with  the  Company,  an 
agreement  was  arrived  at,  and  on  October  25th  the 
Council,  by  forty-two  votes  against  four,  confirmed  the 
arrangement,  by  which  the  dock  estate  waa  to  be 

248  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

transferred  to  the  Corporation  on  the  latter  taking  over 
the  Company's  debt,  and  undertaking  to  pay  a  rent- 
charge  of  2-f  per  cent,  on  the  share  capital,  guaranteed 
by  a  rate  of  fourpence  in  the  pound  on  fixed  property. 
(The  rent-charge  was  redeemed  in  1883,  when  the  Dock 
Company  was  dissolved.) 

An  Act  for  carrying  out  the  transfer  was  passed  in 
June,  1848.  A  Docks  Committee,  elected  by  the  Cor- 
poration, forthwith  prepared  a  new  schedule  of  dues, 
abolishing  the  charges  on  530  articles  of  merchandise, 
and  reducing  the  burden  on  vessels  by  about  50,  and 
on  goods  by  about  20,  per  cent.  The  Hall,  in  the 
following  October,  abolished  the  wharfage  dues  on 
goods  landed  from,  or  shipped  to,  Ireland,  as  well  as  on 
all  foreign  exports,  and  materially  reduced  the  charge 
on  foreign  imports.  The  new  tariff  came  into  effect  on 
November  I5th,  1848,  and  the  event  was  celebrated 
by  a  prodigious  demonstration  of  public  rejoicing. 
Mr.  Bright  was  subsequently  presented  with  a  beautiful 
service  of  plate  in  acknowledgment  of  his  services  to 
the  maritime  and  commercial  interests  of  the  city. 
The  Hall  contributed  fifty  guineas  to  this  testimonial, 
and  conferred  upon  Mr.  Bright  the  freedom  of  the 
Society.  In  1857  his  portrait  was  painted  as  the  result 
of  a  further  public  subscription,  and  the  picture  now 
decorates  the  Hall. 

The  effect  of  the  transfer  of  the  docks  soon  manifested 
itself  in  the  greater  activity  of  commerce.  At  the  end 
of  the  first  ten  years  of  the  new  regime  the  import 
trade  of  the  city  had  improved  66  per  cent.,  and  the 
rateable  value  of  the  borough,  almost  stationary  under 
the  old  system,  increased  by  nearly  one-fourth.  But 
the  very  growth  of  trade  forced  into  greater  prominence 
the  natural  disadvantages  of  the  harbour ;  and  the 


memorable  disaster  of  the  Demerara  in  November, 
1851,  gave  the  Avon  an  evil  reputation  both  at  home 
and  abroad.  Another  serious  drawback  was  the  con- 
tracted form  of  the  chief  entrance  to  the  Float.  In 
1803  the  largest  vessels  trading  to  Bristol  rarely,  if 
ever,  exceeded  500  tons  in  measurement,  whilst  the 
tonnage  of  a  vast  majority  did  not  reach  half  those 
figures,  and  the  size  of  the  locks  had  naturally  been 
determined  by  those  conditions.  By  the  middle  of  the 
century  steamships  of  2,000  tons  were  not  uncommon ; 
the  Demerara  was  of  nearly  3,000  tons ;  and  in  1855 
Mr.  Brunei  had  designed  a  vessel  of  22,000  tons,  which 
he  confidently  predicted  would  be  the  model  ship  of 
the  future. 

The  necessity  of  making  some  provision  to  meet 
modern  developments  gradually  began  to  be  recognised 
as  urgent  by  far-sighted  Bristolians  ;  but  great  differences 
of  opinion  prevailed  as  to  the  manner  in  which  the 
difficulty  should  be  overcome.  In  1852,  Mr.  Rendel,  the 
celebrated  engineer,  submitted  a  plan  for  improving  the 
entrance  of  the  river  by  deepening  "the  Swash"  (a  new 
course  of  the  Avon),  and  constructing  a  dock  and  piers 
near  Avonmouth ;  but  the  estimated  outlay  (£1,500,000) 
proved  fatal  to  the  project.  In  1853,  two  designs  were 
produced  for  docks  and  piers  at  Portishead,  and  these 
were  followed  by  a  multiplicity  of  proposals,  including, 
in  1858,  the  first  scheme  for  building  a  dam  across  the 
mouth  of  the  Avon,  by  which  its  entire  course  from  the 
Severn  to  the  city  would  be  "  dockised."  In  February, 
1858,  on  an  application  from  the  Chamber  of  Commerce, 
the  Standing  Committee  appointed  delegates  to  confer 
with  the  Docks  Committee  and  representatives  of  the 
Chamber  on  the  question  of  providing  accommodation 
for  large  steamers  near  the  shore  of  the  Severn.  The 

250  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

"joint  committee"  accordingly  met  in  March,  and 
ultimately  resolved  (the  Master  and  several  other  mem- 
bers declining  to  vote)  that  either  a  landing  stage,  a  pier, 
or  a  dock,  should  be  provided  as  early  as  possible.  At  a 
further  meeting,  in  June,  it  was  resolved,  by  twelve  votes 
against  four,  that  the  best  solution  of  the  problem  would 
be  the  "  dockisation  "  of  the  Avon.  In  September,  at  a 
crowded  meeting  of  the  citizens,  convened  by  the  Mayor, 
a  resolution  was  moved  by  Mr.  P.  W.  Miles,  declaring 
that  increased  accommodation  was  absolutely  essential. 
The  opponents  of  progress,  styled  "  the  fixed  property 
party,"  sought  to  defeat  this  motion  by  a  sidewind,  and 
proposed  a  "rider"  to  the  effect  that  it  would  be  unjust 
to  raise  funds  for  such  an  object  by  imposing  any  burden 
on  the  ratepayers ;  but  the  resolution  was  adopted  in  its 
original  form,  and  an  influential  committee  was  appointed 
to  confer  with  the  Chamber  of  Commerce.  Nevertheless, 
at  a  special  meeting  of  the  Council,  in  November,  the 
fixed  property  party  defeated  a  motion  advocating  pro- 
gress by  a  majority  of  twenty-five  against  twenty-four. 
In  August,  1859,  Mr.  Howard,  the  Docks'  Engineer,  made 
an  elaborate  report  to  the  Council,  recommending  the 
dockisation  of  the  Avon,  at  an  estimated  cost  of  ^800,000. 
This  and  other  projects  were  soon  afterwards  referred  to 
two  eminent  engineers,  Messrs.  Hawkshaw  and  Page,  who 
reported  upon  them  in  October,  1860.  Both  gentlemen 
condemned  the  dockisation  scheme,  suggested  extensive 
improvements  of  the  Avon,  and  recommended  the  con- 
struction, when  trade  had  further  developed,  of  docks  at 
Avonmouth.  The  influence  of  the  fixed  property  party 
was  still  so  powerful  that  the  Council  contented  itself  by 
approving  of  a  dock  providing  it  could  be  constructed 
without  imposing  a  charge  upon  the  ratepayers.  Even 
this  modest  advance  was  lost  in  February,  1861,  when 


Mr.  R.  P.  King  brought  forward  a  resolution  affirming  the 
inexpediency  of  constructing  a  dock  involving  any  liability 
on  the  ratepayers,  and  requiring  that  the  surplus  revenue 
of  the  Float — on  which  the  progressive  party  relied  for 
effecting  their  object — should  be  extinguished  by  reducing 
the  dues.  An  amendment  advocating  dock  extension 
having  been  defeated  by  thirty-one  votes  against  twenty- 
four,  Mr.  King's  motion  was  adopted,  and  the  dock  dues 
were  forthwith  reduced  to  the  extent  of  about  £6,000  a 

In  despite  of  the  hostility  of  the  Corporation,  the 
advocates  of  progress  were  not  wholly  disheartened.  In 
the  autumn  of  1861,  Mr.  P.  W.  Miles,  Mr.  Robert  Bright, 
Mr.  C.  J.  Thomas,  and  a  few  other  prominent  citizens, 
produced  a  prospectus  of  the  Port  Railway  and  Pier 
Company,  having  for  its  object  the  laying  of  a  railway 
from  the  Hotwells  to  Avonmouth,  and  the  erection  of 
a  pier  opposite  Dunball  Island  for  the  use  of  passenger 
steamers.  An  Act  authorising  the  works  was  obtained 
in  1862,  and  as  about  five  acres  of  the  Society's  land 
was  required  for  the  railway,  the  Hall  ordered  the 
purchase  of  shares  in  the  concern  to  the  extent  of 
-£1,000.  The  scheme  was  obviously  a  mere  stepping- 
stone  to  a  more  comprehensive  enterprise,  and  in  1863 
its  promoters,  supported  by  Mr.  T.  T.  Taylor  (Master, 
1872)  and  others,  laid  a  Bill  before  Parliament  for  the 
construction,  by  a  company,  of  a  dock  at  Avonmouth. 
Up  to  that  time  the  fixed  property  party  had  based 
their  repugnance  to  a  Channel  dock  on  the  inexpediency 
of  adding  fresh  burdens  on  the  ratepayers,  and  had 
declared  that  a  private  undertaking  would  be  unobjection- 
able. They  now,  however,  revealed  the  real  motive 
of  their  action  by  calling  upon  the  Council  to  offer 
a  strenuous  opposition  to  the  project,  declaring  it  to 

252  THE    SOCIETY   IN 

be  an  attempt  "  to  deprive  the  citizens  of  their  rights 
and  privileges  " ;  and  an  amendment  approving  of  the 
scheme  was  rejected  by  twenty -eight  votes  against 
twenty-five.  Owing  to  the  resistance  of  the  Corporation 
the  Bill  was  thrown  out. 

It  is  somewhat  surprising  to  find  that  whilst  Alderman 
Ford,  the  leader  of  the  fixed  property  party,  was  urging 
the  Council  into  the  course  just  described,  he  and  his 
leading  supporters  were  flying  in  the  face  of  their  own 
arguments  by  promoting  a  Bill  for  providing  accommo- 
dation for  shipping  by  means  of  a  pier  at  Portishead, 
with  a  railway  thence  to  Bristol.  The  measure  was 
practically  unopposed,  and,  after  it  had  received  the 
Royal  Assent,  the  Society  subscribed  for  shares  in  the 
company  formed  to  carry  it  out  to  the  value  of  ^1,000. 
(The  Port  and  Pier  undertaking  was  opened  early  in 
1864,  the  Portishead  railway  in  April,  1867,  and  the 
first  section  of  its  pier  in  June,  1868.)  Undeterred  by 
the  undermining  policy  of  their  opponents,  the  advocates 
of  the  Channel  dock  revived  their  Bill  in  1864.  Sub- 
sequent to  its  previous  rejection,  the  feeling  of  the 
citizens  in  its  favour  had  been  unmistakably  manifested 
at  the  annual  municipal  elections,  and  the  Parliamentary 
Committee  of  the  Council,  changing  its  attitude,  suggested 
that  it  would  be  unwise  to  prolong  a  fruitless  dispute. 
Their  report  was  approved  by  a  large  majority.  The 
Society  also  warmly  supported  the  scheme,  resolving 
to  petition  in  its  favour,  and  the  Master  was  desired 
to  give  evidence  on  its  behalf.  In  spite  of  an  obstinate 
opposition,  the  Bill  soon  after  became  law. 

Owing  to  the  effects  of  the  great  financial  panic  of 
1866,  the  promoters  of  the  dock  were  unable  to  make  any 
progress  for  some  years.  On  July  3ist,  1868,  the  Hall, 
on  the  motion  of  Mr.  J.  A.  Jones  (Master,  1862  and  1863), 


resolved  that  the  undertaking  was  of  vital  importance  to 
the  future  of  Bristol,  and  it  was  therefore  determined  to 
subscribe  £2,500  towards  the  company's  capital.  A  few 
weeks  later  the  Society  subscribed  £1,500  towards  the 
extension  of  the  pier  at  Portishead.  The  promoters  of 
the  latter  project  resolved,  in  1870,  on  supplementing  their 
works  with  a  dock,  towards  which  the  Corporation,  after 
refusing  assistance  to  the  Avonmouth  Company,  con- 
tributed £100,000.  The  basin  at  Avonmouth  was  opened 
in  February,  1877,  and  that  at  Portishead  in  June,  1879. 
The  minute  books  of  the  Society  contain  no  further 
reference  to  either  of  these  undertakings,  which,  after 
a  chequered  career,  were  finally  purchased  by  the 

Reference  may  here  be  conveniently  made  to  some  of 
the  Society's  transactions  with  respect  to  other  mercantile 
subjects.  The  propensity  of  the  Government  to  exclude 
the  outports  from  privileges  conceded  to  London  has  been 
noted  in  previous  chapters,  and  further  instances  of  the 
same  proclivity  were  not  infrequent  in  the  early  years  of 
the  last  century.  About  1803,  for  example,  the  privilege 
of  warehousing  dutiable  articles  under  bond  was  granted 
exclusively  to  the  merchants  of  the  capital,  and  it  was 
not  until  after  numerous  appeals  had  been  made  by  the 
Society  that  the  Ministry  consented  to  extend  the  boon 
to  the  chief  provincial  ports.  The  official  practices  of 
earlier  days  seem  to  have  been  still  prevalent,  for  when 
the  just  concession  was  at  length  obtained  in  1808,  the 
Hall  found  it  prudent  to  vote  £100  for  distribution 
"  amongst  the  persons  in  London  who  had  forwarded  the 
business."  With  respect  to  imports  of  coffee,  again, 
the  privilege  of  roasting  the  berry  was  confined,  until 
1808,  to  London,  and  much  trouble  had  to  be  undergone 
before  the  grievance  was  remedied.  Even  then  the 

254  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

Government  insisted  that  the  process  should  be  left 
entirely  in  official  hands ;  an  exorbitant  charge  was  made 
by  their  servants ;  and  the  removal  of  the  coffee  from  and 
to  the  grocers'  premises  could  not  be  effected  without  a 
double  application  for  Excise  "  permits."  For  some  years 
the  importation  of  silk  was  confined  exclusively  to  London. 
But  the  greatest  injustice  under  which  Bristol  and  other 
ports  suffered  was  the  monopoly  of  trade  to  the  Far  East, 
enjoyed  by  the  East  India  Company,  and  long  stoutly 
defended  by  the  Government.  On  the  appeals  of  the 
Society  and  similar  bodies,  the  trade  to  India  was  at 
length  thrown  open  in  1813,  but  it  was  not  until  twenty 
years  later  that  the  outports  were  permitted  to  deal  with 
China.  In  April,  1835,  Messrs.  Acraman,  Bush,  Castle, 
and  Co.  brought  a  large  cargo  of  tea  to  Bristol  direct 
from  Canton,  and  extensive  warehouses  were  built  by 
the  firm  expressly  for  continuing  the  trade,  which  was, 
however,  ultimately  dropped  as  unprofitable. 

The  regulation  of  pilotage,  vested  in  the  Society 
by  the  Corporation,  needed  constant  supervision  and 
entailed  considerable  expense.  Accidents  were  naturally 
of  frequent  occurrence,  and  whilst  complaints  of  negli- 
gence were  carefully  investigated,  the  Hall  invariably 
voted  relief  to  pilots  who  had  suffered  personal  injury, 
or  whose  boats  had  been  lost  or  damaged  in  stormy 
weather.  This  branch  of  business  was  largely  extended 
in  1807  by  the  passing  of  an  Act  placing  the  whole  of 
the  pilots  in  the  Bristol  Channel  from  Barnstaple  to 
Gloucester  under  the  supervision  of  the  Corporation,  or 
really  of  the  Society.  The  development  of  trade  in 
South  Wales  and  other  causes  gradually  aroused  an 
agitation  against  this  arrangement,  and,  in  despite  of  the 
opposition  of  the  corporate  body  and  the  Society,  an  Act 
was  passed  in  1861,  by  which  the  ports  of  Gloucester, 


Newport,  and  Cardiff  were  placed  on  an  independent; 
footing.  In  the  same  year  the  Society  relinquished  the 
regulation  of  the  Bristol  pilots,  and  the  Corporation,  in 
accepting  the  surrender,  expressed  its  grateful  sense  of 
the  liberal  and  effective  manner  in  which  the  Society  had 
performed  an  arduous  duty  for  250  years. 

In  1843  a  Government  Bill  was  introduced  into 
Parliament  requiring  seamen  seeking  to  become  masters 
or  mates  of  vessels  to  undergo  an  examination  as  to  their 
competency.  The  measure  was  strongly  disapproved  by 
many  shipowners,  and  the  Society  desired  the  members 
for  Bristol  to  oppose  it  as  a  wholly  unnecessary  inter- 
ference with  private  rights.  The  feeling  against  the  Bill 
was  so  widely  prevalent  that  it  made  no  progress  for 
several  years,  during  which  the  Government's  offers  to 
place  local  examinations  under  the  management  of  the 
Society  were  more  than  once  rejected.  In  1850,  when 
the  Bill  at  last  became  law,  the  Hall's  objections  to  the 
measure  had  so  far  diminished  that  the  first  Local  Marine 
Board  included  four  members  of  the  Society.  At  the 
very  outset,  however,  the  new  body  discovered  that  the 
Board  of  Trade  had  refused  to  place  Bristol  on  an  equal 
footing  with  London  and  Liverpool ;  but  the  Master  and 
Wardens  were  despatched  to  the  capital  to  make  an 
earnest  remonstrance,  and  the  grievance  was  soon  after- 
wards remedied.  In  1855  the  Corporation  requested  the 
Society  to  undertake  the  examination  of  masters  and 
mates  applying  for  pilotage  certificates,  to  which  the  Hall 
assented,  and  the  arrangement  continued  until  1861. 

Reference  has  been  already  made  to  the  assistance 
rendered  to  the  Chamber  of  Commerce  by  the  Society 
at  an  early  stage  of  the  agitation  for  an  abatement  of 
the  Town  and  Mayor's  Dues.  After  a  remission  was 
secured,  however,  the  relations  of  the  Hall  with  the 

256  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

Chamber  became  antagonistic  through  the  claims  made 
by  the  latter  in  1827  for  a  reduction  of  the  wharfage 
dues,  which  were  alleged  to  be  levied  upon  various 
merchants  who,  possessing  private  wharves,  suffered 
from  a  burden  from  which  they  reaped  no  benefit. 
The  Society,  who  were  warmly  supported  by  the  old 
Corporation,  made  no  reduction  in  the  dues  until  more 
than  twenty  years  later,  at  which  period  the  Chamber 
had  been  temporarily  absorbed  in  the  Free  Port  Associa- 
tion. On  its  revival  in  1851,  the  Society  consented  to 
an  arrangement  (rescinded  in  1857)  under  which  the 
Master  for  the  time  being  became  President  and  the 
Wardens  Vice-presidents  of  the  Chamber  ex-officio.  A 
subscription  of  £100  per  annum  was  also  voted  to  the 
new  institution,  and  the  Hall  was  granted  for  its  annual 

The  Society's  lease  of  the  wharfage  dues  would  have 
expired  at  Michaelmas,  1863 ;  but  in  1859,  in  view  of 
demands  for  increased  shed  accommodation  on  the  quays 
and  other  improvements,  the  Corporation  suggested  the 
desirability  of  a  surrender  of  the  lease  on  equitable 
terms.  After  prolonged  negotiations,  the  Standing 
Committee,  in  February,  1861,  formulated  terms  for 
surrendering  the  lease  on  the  following  ist  July,  which 
were  confirmed  by  the  Hall  and  accepted  by  the  Corpo- 
ration. Under  this  agreement  the  Society  received 
one -third  of  the  net  receipts  from  the  dues  for  the 
unexpired  period  of  the  lease,  less  the  average  cost  of 
repairing  the  quays  and  other  usual  charges,  the  Society 
also  contributing,  as  a  free  gift,  £2,000  towards  erecting 
the  proposed  sheds. 

The  first  reference  to  railroad  projects  in  the  minute 
books  is  dated  December  8th,  1832,  when  the  Standing 
Committee  appointed  three  of  their  body  to  confer  with 


committees  of  the  Corporation,  the  Dock  Company, 
and  the  Gloucestershire  Railway  Company  (who  had 
a  colliery  line  to  Coalpit  Heath),  "it  being  thought 
that  the  subject  of  a  railroad  from  Bristol  to  London 
was  worthy  of  consideration."  On  the  subsequent 
recommendation  of  the  delegates,  the  Hall  resolved  to 
co-operate  with  the  other  public  bodies  in  obtaining 
plans,  and  subscribed  200  guineas  towards  that  object. 
Surveys  were  soon  afterwards  made  by  Mr.  Brunei  and 
Mr.  Townsend,  who  estimated  the  cost  of  the  under- 
taking at  £2,800,000.  The  first  directorate  of  the  Great 
Western  Railway  Company  was  nominated  in  equal  parts 
by  the  shareholders  in  London  and  Bristol,  and  included 
the  following  gentlemen,  who  then  were,  or  afterwards 
became,  members  of  the  Society : — Robert  Bright,  who 
subscribed  for  shares  to  the  value  of  £25,900;  Peter 
Maze  (£23,000),  John  Cave  (£17,900),  George  Gibbs 
(£14,000),  Frederick  Ricketts  (£10,000),  and  Henry  Bush 
(£8,000).  The  Society  subscribed  £1,000,  and  granted 
the  use  of  the  Hall  for  several  meetings  of  the  company. 
Lord  Granville  Somerset,  the  first  chairman  of  the 
board,  was  presented  with  the  freedom  of  the  Hall. 
Movements  for  the  construction  of  lines  to  Exeter  and 
Gloucester  were  started  subsequently,  and  numerous 
meetings  for  their  promotion  took  place  in  the  Hall. 
The  Society's  subscriptions  to  the  Avonmouth  and 
Portishead  railways  have  been  already  noticed. 

Some  reference  may  here  be  made  to  a  notable 
bequest  confided  to  the  Society  for  an  important 
public  object  by  a  liberal-hearted  Bristolian.  In  1753 
Mr.  William  Vick,  a  wealthy  wine  merchant,  often  but 
erroneously  styled  an  alderman,  devised  the  sum  of 
£1,000,  subject  to  life  interests,  in  trust  to  the  Society, 
directing  that  the  money  should  be  invested,  and  the 


258  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

interest  suffered  to  accumulate  until  the  capital  reached 
£10,000,  when  the  money  was  to  be  devoted  to  the 
erection  of  a  bridge  over  the  gorge  of  the  Avon  at 
St.  Vincent's  Rocks.  The  bequest  did  not  reach  the 
Society  until  1779,  when  the  fund,  with  some  accrued 
interest,  was  taken  over,  and  the  subsequent  yearly 
profits  were  invested  as  they  arose.  The  Chamber  of 
Commerce  having  applied  for  information  on  the  subject, 
the  Standing  Committee,  in  August,  1829,  after  pointing 
out  that  the  sum  contemplated  by  the  donor  would 
not  be  attained  until  1834,  and  would  then  be  manifestly 
inadequate  to  carry  out  its  object,  recommended  that 
a  plan  for  a  bridge  should  be  procured,  and  a  scheme 
for  raising  subscriptions  submitted  to  the  public,  prior 
to  applying  for  Parliamentary  sanction.  A  plan  by  a 
Mr.  Mylne  seems  to  have  been  immediately  forthcoming, 
for  the  Committee,  a  few  days  later,  recommended  the 
appointment  of  the  Master,  the  Mayor,  and  several 
members  of  the  Society  as  a  committee  charged  with 
obtaining  an  Act  and  promoting  the  design.  Inquiries 
were  first  made  by  this  body  as  to  the  feasibility  of 
building  a  stone  bridge,  the  cost  of  which  was  estimated 
at  £60,000.  But  Telford's  achievement  at  Menai  Strait 
in  1827  had  doubtless  impressed  Bristolians,  and  the 
Society  ordered  the  preparation  of  a  Bill  for  powers 
to  erect  a  similar  suspension  bridge.  In  the  meantime, 
premiums  were  offered  to  engineers  for  the  best  design, 
which  were  gained  by  two  gentlemen  named  Hawkes 
and  Hazledine.  Their  plans,  with  others  drawn  by  Mr. 
Telford,  Mr.  Brunei,  and  Mr.  Rendel,  were  ultimately 
submitted  to  the  President  of  the  Royal  Society,  who 
reported  in  favour  of  Mr.  Brunei's,  the  cost  of  which 
was  estimated  at  £57,000.  The  Bridge  Bill  received 
the  Royal  Assent  in  May,  1830,  about  which  time 


the  loans  and  donations  promised,  in  conjunction  with 
Vick's  fund  (£8,700),  amounted  to  upwards  of  ^32,000, 
including  a  loan  of  ^500  and  a  gift  of  ^250  by  the 
Society.  In  view  of  the  deficiency  of  capital,  the 
trustees  appointed  under  the  Act  proceeded  with  caution, 
and  operations  were  suspended  until  January,  1836, 
when,  at  a  meeting  in  Merchants'  Hall,  it  was  reported 
that  Mr.  Brunei  had  reduced  his  estimate,  and  that, 
through  the  promise  of  £9,000  more  from  subscribers, 
the  prospective  deficit  was  only  about  .£8,000.  The 
first  stone  of  the  Somerset  pier  was  laid  by  the 
Marquis  of  Northampton,  President  of  the  British 
Association,  during  the  visit  of  that  body  in  August, 
1836.  The  melancholy  history  of  the  undertaking  during 
the  following  fifteen  years  may  be  found  in  local  works. 
Mr.  Brunei's  revised  estimate  proved  to  be  about  £"20,000 
below  the  sum  required  to  finish  the  design ;  and  in 
1851,  when  £"47,400  had  been  expended,  the  enterprise 
was  abandoned,  leaving  two  ugly  piers  as  its  only 
monument.  It  was  not  until  1860  that  a  serious  attempt 
was  made  to  revive  the  undertaking,  which  was  effected 
by  means  of  a  joint  stock  company,  promoted  by  two 
eminent  engineers,  Sir  John  Hawkshaw  and  Mr.  Barlow, 
with  a  share  capital  of  £35,000,  towards  which  the 
Society  subscribed  £^00.  The  necessary  Act  was 
obtained  in  1861,  and  the  bridge  was  opened  on 
December  8th,  1864. 

A  few  weeks  before  the  last-named  event,  great 
dismay  was  occasioned  in  the  city  by  an  announcement 
that  a  neighbouring  wealthy  landowner  was  about  to 
dispose  of  that  portion  of  Leigh  Woods  adjoining  the 
Suspension  Bridge  to  a  speculative  London  builder, 
who  purposed  to  destroy  the  magnificent  sylvan  scenery, 
with  the  view  of  erecting  some  800  tenements,  many 

26O  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

of  a  paltry  character,  thus  converting  the  romantic  site 
into  an  eyesore.  It  being  found  that  the  preservation 
of  the  woods  depended  wholly  upon  the  public  spirit 
of  the  citizens,  a  company  was  formed  by  a  few 
generous-minded  persons,  and  the  Society  lent  their 
assistance  to  the  movement  by  taking  shares  to  the 
value  of  £2,500.  The  estate  was  shortly  afterwards 
purchased  for  £40,000,  and  the  Master  for  the  time 
being  was  appointed  a  director  ex-officio  of  the  Leigh 
Woods'  Company.  The  shareholders  have  hitherto 
reaped  no  return  for  their  generous  action  save  the 
gratitude  of  the  citizens. 

An  arrangement  of  a  still  more  beneficial  character 
to  the  inhabitants  of  Bristol  had  been  brought  to 
maturity  in  1861,  largely  through  the  liberality  of  the 
Society.  For  many  years  previous  to  that  date  the 
Hall  had  shown  an  anxious  desire  to  preserve  Clifton 
Down,  and  that  portion  of  Durdham  Down  lying  within 
their  manor  of  Clifton,  for  the  pleasure  and  recreation 
of  the  public.  A  rumour  having  become  prevalent  that 
the  Society  intended  to  enclose  this  open  space,  or  to 
dispose  of  their  interest  in  it  to  speculators,  an  emphatic 
resolution  was  passed  by  the  Hall  in  February,  1856, 
declaring  that  no  such  action  had  ever  been  contem- 
plated, and  that  the  Society  would  use  their  best 
exertions  to  maintain  for  the  citizens  the  free  enjoyment 
of  the  land.  Upwards  of  200  acres  of  Durdham  Down, 
however,  belonged  to  the  lords  of  the  manor  of  Henbury, 
whose  intentions  regarding  the  common  were  suspected 
by  the  legal  advisers  of  the  Corporation  in  May,  1859, 
to  be  of  a  very  different  character ;  and  the  Council 
shortly  afterwards  appointed  a  committee  to  confer 
with  the  respective  owners,  with  a  view  to  vesting  the 
manorial  rights  in  the  Corporation,  and  securing  the 


permanence  of  the  public's  privileges.  The  Society's 
recognition  of  the  main  object  of  the  civic  body  was 
in  consonance  with  the  policy  it  had  invariably  pursued. 
Making  no  demand  for  pecuniary  compensation,  the 
Hall  expressed  its  willingness,  whilst  retaining  its 
manorial  rights,  and  reserving  a  fringe  of  precipitous 
rocks  on  the  shore  of  the  Avon,  to  secure  to  the  public 
an  unrestricted  access  to,  and  enjoyment  of,  the  surface 
of  the  Downs  for  all  future  time.  The  lords  of  the 
manor  of  Henbury,  of  which  three-fourths  were  held 
by  the  owner  of  Leigh  Woods,  consented  to  dispose 
of  their  rights  over  Durdham  Down  for  .£15,000.  An 
Act  confirming  these  arrangements,  and  vesting  the 
management  of  the  entire  space  in  a  committee  chosen 
in  equal  moieties  by  the  Corporation  and  the  Society, 
was  obtained  in  1861.  The  Hall  has  since  voted 
donations  from  time  to  time  for  planting  trees  and  for 
other  improvements,  and  in  1866  permission  was  granted 
for  constructing  a  temporary  engine-house  and  railway, 
by  which  excavations  from  improvement  works  in  the 
Avon  were  made  use  of  for  levelling  up  three  extensive 
quarries  which  then  deformed  the  Downs. 

In  1817,  when  the  popularity  of  the  once  fashionable 
Hot  Well  had  sunk  to  a  very  low  ebb  (see  page  218)  the 
Hall  adopted  a  suggestion  that  an  effort  should  be  made 
to  revive  the  renown  of  the  spring  by  the  erection  of  a 
more  commodious  Pump  Room.  The  cost  of  the 
improvement  was  then  estimated  at  only  ^400,  but  the 
design  greatly  developed  under  further  consideration, 
and  upwards  of  .£4,000  were  expended  before  the  new 
premises  were  opened  in  1822.  The  results  were 
financially  disastrous.  The  first  tenant  undertook  to 
pay  a  rent  of  ^200,  and  by  converting  the  upper  rooms 
into  lodgings  he  succeeded  in  doing  so  for  five  years. 

262  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

(At  this  period  the  public  were  deprived  of  their  right 
of  free  access  to  the  spring,  and  the  interdiction  con- 
tinued until  1837.)  A  succession  of  occupiers  followed, 
all  of  whom  fell  into  arrears  or  became  insolvent,  and 
the  rent  by  various  abatements  was  reduced  to  £45  in 
1838.  A  slight  revival  followed  upon  the  opening  of  a 
swimming  bath ;  but  the  last  tenant  fell  into  hopeless 
embarrassment,  and  he  was  forgiven  a  heavy  debt.  The 
Pump  Room  was  finally  swept  away  in  1867,  when  Hot 
Well  Point  was  removed  by  the  Corporation  in  carrying 
out  an  extensive  scheme  for  facilitating  the  navigation 
of  the  Avon. 

The  Society  also  long  possessed  two  Cold  Baths  at 
Jacob's  Wells,  which  must  at  one  period  have  been  in 
good  repute,  for  ^500  were  paid  in  1793  for  a  lease  of 
the  premises.  Scarcely  anything  is  recorded  about  them ; 
but  the  two  buildings,  which  had  much  the  appearance  of 
diminutive  Dissenting  chapels  of  the  old-fashioned  type, 
were  standing,  though  in  a  ruinous  condition,  until  about 
thirty  years  ago. 

An  improvement  of  a  later  date  having  a  slight 
connection  with  the  Hot  Well  may  here  be  briefly  noted. 
In  September,  1890,  Mr.  (now  Sir)  George  Newnes 
applied  to  the  Hall  for  permission  to  make  an  "under- 
ground inclined  Lift"  from  near  the  site  of  the  demolished 
Pump  Room  to  Prince's  Buildings.  The  Society  having 
acceded  to  his  request  under  certain  conditions,  the 
Clifton  Rocks  Railway,  constructed  at  a  cost  of  upwards 
of  .£30,000,  was  opened  in  March,  1893.  The  chief 
conditions  imposed  on  Mr.  Newnes  were  that  he  should 
establish  at  Prince's  Buildings  an  extensive  Hydro- 
pathic institution,  and  erect  a  Pump  Room  adjoining 
for  a  revived  Hot  Well  Spa.  The  latter  building,  of  a 
handsome  character,  was  opened  in  August,  1894,  and 


provided  a  convenient  place  of  reunion  for  the  residents 
of  upper  Clifton.  The  interior  reconstruction  of  three 
large  houses  in  Prince's  Buildings  was  undertaken  by  a 
company  formed  for  the  purpose,  and  the  "Clifton  Grand 
Spa  Hydro"  was  opened  in  March,  1898,  by  the  chairman, 
Sir  George  Newnes. 

During  the  slow  decline  of  the  famous  old  Hot  Well, 
the  neighbourhood  of  the  "  New  Hot  Well "  (see  page  215) 
arose  into  temporary  importance.  In  1836,  when  the 
authorities  of  the  Zoological  Gardens  applied  to  the 
Society  for  leave  to  raise  water  from  this  source  for  the 
use  of  their  grounds,  it  was  reported  to  the  Standing 
Committee  that,  in  addition  to  the  Well  itself,  there  was 
a  much  more  copious  spring  in  the  same  locality,  belonging 
to  the  Hall,  producing  several  thousand  gallons  of  water 
per  hour.  So  limited  was  the  then  population  of  "  Clifton 
on  the  hill "  that  the  Committee  conceived  this  supply  to 
greatly  exceed  the  requirements  of  the  inhabitants,  and  a 
sub-committee  was  directed  to  consider  the  practicability 
of  establishing  suitable  water  works.  After  a  lengthy 
delay,  a  definite  report  was  produced  in  August,  1841,  in 
which  it  was  asserted  that  the  two  springs,  in  a  dry  season, 
produced  94,000  gallons  daily,  "  being  double  the  quantity 
required  for  Clifton  "  ;  and  that  the  cost  of  a  pumping 
engine,  mains,  a  reservoir  on.  Observatory  Hill,*  and 
branch  pipes,  would  not  exceed  ^15,000.  A  few  weeks 
later,  Mr.  Brunei,  then  at  the  summit  of  his  fame,  was 
appointed  engineer  of  the  works,  and  a  Bill  was  prepared 
for  the  Session  of  1842  ;  but  through  the  opposition 
threatened  by  the  owners  of  Sion  and  Richmond  springs, 

*  In  1767  the  Society  advanced  a  man  named  Walters  £200,  on  his  undertaking 
to  build  a  windmill  for  grinding  corn  on  "  Mount-pelier,  otherwise  St.  Vincent's 
Mount."  The  mill,  which  had  been  converted  into  a  snuff  mill,  was  accidentally 
burnt  down  in  1777,  and  the  ruin  figures  in  many  views  of  the  Hot  Well.  In  1828 
the  Hall  granted  the  site  at  a  nominal  rent  to  William  West,  on  his  undertaking  to 
construct  an  Observatory,  which,  says  the  minute,  "would  be  an  object  of  beauty, 
and  useful  for  signals  to  the  shipping." 

264  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

who  enjoyed  a  practical  monopoly  of  the  existing  water 
supply  of  Clifton,  the  measure  was  withdrawn.  In 
September,  1844,  a  committee  of  the  Society  again 
recommended  the  construction  of  works,  the  cost  of 
which  was  estimated  at  only  ^8,000,  and  as  the  available 
daily  supply  was  magnified  by  an  engineer  to  396,000 
gallons,  the  Hall  resolved,  in  March,  1845,  to  carry  out 
Brunei's  plans  without  further  delay,  an  Act  being  deemed 
unnecessary.  A  fantastically-designed  engine-house  was 
accordingly  raised  over  the  larger  spring ;  an  excavation 
for  a  reservoir  was  made  near  the  Observatory ;  and  other 
operations  had  been  nearly  completed ;  when  the  formation 
of  the  Bristol  Water  Company,  who  proposed  to  apply  for 
statutory  powers  in  1846,  led  to  further  developments. 
The  Society  resolved  to  introduce  a  rival  Bill,  claiming 
exclusive  authority  to  supply  Clifton  and  the  adjoining 
city  parishes,  and  undertaking  to  provide  for  the  sewerage 
of  those  districts.  The  Water  Company  sought  to  avoid 
a  struggle  at  Westminster  by  offering  to  reimburse  the 
Hall  for  the  outlay  incurred,  providing  that  the  schemes 
were  amalgamated,  and  invited  the  Society  to  become 
shareholders  in  the  company  and  to  accept  a  share  in  the 
management.  This  offer  having  been  declined,  a  contest 
took  place  before  a  Committee  of  the  House  of  Commons, 
and,  as  the  Water  Company  intimated  that  their  Bill 
would  be  withdrawn  if  the  area  of  supply  were  divided, 
the  Standing  Committee  recommended  the  Hall  to  under- 
take the  provision  of  the  entire  city,  Mr.  Brunei  having, 
characteristically,  asserted  that  the  Society's  springs 
would  furnish  an  "  ample  "  supply  for  the  whole  popula- 
tion !  The  Parliamentary  Committee,  however,  rejected 
the  Society's  Bill,  and  approved  of  the  rival  scheme,  but 
intimated  that  the  Water  Company  ought  to  carry  out 
their  previous  offer  to  recoup  the  Hall  for  the  expenditure 


it  had  incurred.  The  Company  eventually  agreed  to  pay 
^"18,000  to  cover  the  cost  of  the  works,  but  refused  to 
purchase  the  springs,  the  engine-house,  and  the  reservoir. 
The  foregoing  paragraph  suggests  a  brief  reference 
to  the  history  of  the  parish  of  Clifton  during  the  first 
half  of  the  nineteenth  century.  In  1801  "  Clifton  on 
the  hill "  was  an  inconsiderable  village,  and  with  the 
exception  of  York  Place  and  Prince's  Buildings,  the 
Society's  scanty  estate  there  consisted  chiefly  of  gardens 
and  small  dairy  farms.  The  progress  of  building  during 
the  following  forty  years  was  exceedingly  slow,  and  so 
late  as  1842,  when  the  showy ards  of  the  Royal  Agricul- 
tural Society  occupied  the  area  of  the  present  Triangle 
and  two  or  three  fields  immediately  in  the  rear  of  the 
Victoria  Rooms,  a  pedestrian  from  Bristol  was  practically 
in  open  country  when  he  had  passed  Berkeley  Place. 
Save  two  small  clumps  of  dwellings  and  a  few  cottages, 
Whiteladies  Road,  more  than  a  mile  in  length,  was 
bounded  by  green  fields  and  nurseries  until  it  reached 
Black  Boy  Hill,  then  inhabited  by  the  poorest  class 
of  labourers ;  Pembroke  Road  was  a  narrow  lane  called 
Gallows  Acre,  containing  in  a  distance  of  over  half  a 
mile  only  a  solitary  house ;  and,  with  trivial  exceptions, 
the  wide  space  to  the  right  and  left  of  those  highways 
was  in  the  hands  of  gardeners  and  petty  farmers.  The 
attention  of  the  Hall  was  thus  rarely  called  to  the 
management  of  an  estate  so  largely  rural.  An  important 
extension  of  buildings  on  the  Society's  land  was  at  length 
started  in  1847,  when  "Ferny  Close" — which  a  cautious 
speculator  had  refused  to  purchase  for  .£2,500 — began 
to  be  gradually  converted  into  Victoria  Square,  the 
Society  subsidising  the  first  contractor.  The  example 
became  at  once  contagious,  and  the  progress  made 
during  the  following  years  on  the  open  land  of  private 

266  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

individuals  was  astonishingly  rapid,  the  mason  being 
practically  ubiquitous.  St.  Paul's  Road  was  completed 
in  1854  by  the  erection  of  a  church ;  and  Alma  Road, 
with  other  new  thoroughfares,  had  then  been  begun. 
In  1856  a  large  sum  was  raised  by  subscription,  the 
Hall  contributing  £500,  for  the  purpose  of  sweeping 
away  a  nest  of  unsightly  hovels  fronting  the  Victoria 
Rooms,  and  converting  the  site  into  an  ornamental 
.garden,  an  improvement  which  gave  a  fresh  impetus 
to  building  operations  in  that  neighbourhood.  In  1858 
the  Society,  at  a  heavy  outlay,  acquired  premises  known 
as  Carter's  Brewery,  near  Victoria  Square,  through 
which  Merchants'  Road  was  afterwards  laid  out,  con- 
necting Queen's  Road  with  Regent's  Street,  thus 
obviating  the  long  carriage  detour  to  the  Mall  by  way 
of  Clifton  Church.  By  1860  almost  the  whole  agricul- 
tural area  of  the  parish  and  the  aspect  of  the  older 
thoroughfares  had  been  transformed ;  and  after  the 
opening  of  Clifton  College,  in  the  following  year,  the 
few  remaining  vacant  plots  speedily  disappeared.  One 
field  —  Road  Close  —  at  the  junction  of  Oakfield  and 
Pembroke  Roads  long  survived  the  rest,  but  became 
Hanbury  Road  South  about  1876.  The  extent  of  the 
Society's  estate  in  upper  Clifton  being  inconsiderable  as 
compared  with  those  of  private  owners,  while  properties 
were  greatly  intermixed,  the  task  of  negotiating  with 
separate  individuals  for  laying  out  the  ground  in  a 
satisfactory  manner  occasionally  proved  very  onerous. 
It  was  only  through  the  persistent  exertions  of  the 
Society  that  some  of  the  leading  thoroughfares  obtained 
their  present  spacious  dimensions. 

As  regards  the  internal  affairs  of  the  Society,  one 
of  the  questions  that  most  frequently  underwent  the  con- 
sideration of  the  Hall  during  the  century  was  that  arising 



out  of  the  continuous  shrinking  of  the  roll  of  members. 
In  September,  1803,  when  only  about  a  dozen  gentlemen 
had  been  admitted  by  fine  during  the  previous  thirty-five 
years,  whilst  a  much  greater  number  had  been  removed 
by  death,  the  Ordinance  of  1768,  imposing  a  fine  of 
^200  on  each  "  Redemptioner,"  was  momentarily  sus- 
pended in  order  to  admit  nineteen  candidates  on  payment 
of  £150  each.  In  February,  1819,  it  was  proposed  to 
admit  twenty-two  gentlemen  on  the  same  terms,  but 
a  motion  to  that  effect  was  disapproved.  In  October, 
1836,  when  the  roll  had  further  largely  diminished, 
a  committee  was  appointed  to  consider  measures  for 
admitting  some  leading  merchants  and  manufacturers ; 
but  no  report  seems  to  have  been  presented.  Another 
committee,  charged  with  the  same  task,  was  appointed 
in  1838 ;  and  having  soon  afterwards  reported  the 
desirability  of  admitting  twenty  additional  members, 
being  freemen  of  the  city  and  mercantile  men,  at  a 
fine  of  £50  each,  the  Hall  suspended  the  Ordinance  on 
August  24th,  and  selected  the  above  number  out  of  thirty- 
one  candidates.  The  old  Ordinance  was  then  re-enacted. 
(One  of  the  gentlemen  chosen  proved  to  be  disqualified, 
being  a  non-freeman.)  In  February,  1848,  when  the 
Standing  Committee  directed  some  of  its  members  to 
consider  the  qualifications  for  admission,  a  suggestion 
was  made  that  the  Hall  should  be  simply  recommended 
to  reduce  the  admission  fee  to  ^50,  but  it  was  determined 
to  await  the  report  of  the  sub-committee,  which  was 
never  produced.  In  December,  1850,  the  Standing 
Committee  resolved  that  it  was  expedient  to  admit 
eighteen  new  members  at  a  nominal  fine.  The  subject 
was  then  being  considered  by  another  sub-committee, 
who  brought  up  a  new  code  of  regulations  in  the 
following  March ;  but  it  was  apparently  disapproved, 

268  THE   SOCIETY   IN 

and  was  not  inserted  in  the  minutes.  In  April,  185  ir 
the  Standing  Committee  drew  up  a  new  scheme  of 
regulations,  abolishing  all  the  previous  Ordinances  con- 
cerning admissions,  excepting  as  regarded  existing 
apprenticeships,  and  fixing  the  fine  on  Redemptioners 
at  £50.  At  a  Hall  held  on  April  i2th  these  regulations 
were  refused  confirmation ;  but  another  Hall  was 
summoned  for  the  25th,  when  all  the  Ordinances 
relating  to  admissions  (existing  apprenticeships  excepted) 
were  repealed,  and  a  Standing  Order  was  enacted  to 
the  following  effect : — 

That  no  person  shall  be  admitted  by  purchase  on  payment  of  a 
less  sum  than  ^"50  and  IDS.  to  the  Clerk.  That,  subject  to  the 
conditions  which  follow,  apprentices  who  duly  serve  their  term  and 
are  otherwise  qualified,  shall  be  eligible  for  admission  on  payment  of 
45.  6d.  and  IDS.  to  the  Clerk.  That  the  term  be  not  less  than  seven 
years.  That,  excepting  existing  apprentices,  no  person  shall  be 
admitted  by  virtue  of  apprenticeship  unless  he  is  related  to  his 
master  in  a  degree  not  less  distant  than  first  cousin,  or  pay  ^"25  to 
the  Society  and  los.  to  the  Clerk.  Every  future  indenture  to  be 
enrolled,  and  6s.  8d.  paid  to  the  Clerk.  Every  one  claiming  the 
freedom  to  give  three  days'  notice  to  the  Clerk.  Members'  sons  to 
be  admitted  on  the  minimum  fee  fixed  for  apprentices,  provided  that 
each  shall  have  been  born  after  his  father's  admission.  The  son  of  a 
Redemptioner,  or  member  admitted  gratuitously,  who  shall  not  have 
served  as  apprentice  to  a  member,  shall  pay  405.  on  admission  and 
the  Clerk's  fee.  No  son  of  a  member  shall  be  eligible  for  admission 
in  right  of  birth  unless  born  after  the  admission  of  his  father.  No 
person  to  be  admitted  unless  notice  of  such  proposed  admission  be 
given  in  the  summons  convening  the  next  Hall. 

The  number  of  Redemptioners  admitted  on  payment 
of  £50  each  during  the  following  ten  years  was  twenty- 
three,  and  forty-two  more  were  elected  up  to  the  close 
of  the  century.  In  July,  1872,  the  Hall  requested  the 
Standing  Committee  again  to  report  on  the  system  of 
admitting  that  class  of  members.  From  the  committee's 
response  in  the  following  January,  it  appears  that  the 



total  number  of  members  on  the  roll  was  then  seventy- 
four  (as  against  upwards  of  one  hundred  in  1801),  of 
whom  twenty  had  been  admitted  by  right  of  birth, 
twenty-four  by  apprenticeship,  and  thirty  by  payment 
of  ^50.  The  committee  saw  no  necessity  for  altering 
the  regulations,  except  that  the  nomination  of  proposed 
Redemptioners  should  be  made  at  one  Hall,  and  their 
election  at  the  next.  A  law  was  then  enacted  to  that 
effect,  and  it  was  followed  by  another  disqualifying  a 
candidate  who  did  not  obtain  a  majority  of  three-fourths 
of  the  members  present ;  and  by  a  third,  forbidding 
a  nomination  to  be  received  unless  with  the  sanction 
of  the  Hall.  In  July,  1885,  the  Clerk  having  expressed 
his  belief  that  an  application  to  the  Privy  Council  for 
an  alteration  of  the  Society's  charter  would  be  assented 
to,  the  Standing  Committee  requested  the  Master  to 
convene  a  special  Hall  to  consider  the  subject,  but  no 
such  meeting  took  place.  It  is  probable  that  the  object 
then  in  view  was  to  obtain  an  abrogation  of  the  clause 
requiring  members  of  the  Society  to  be  freemen  of  the 
city.  In  1895,  the  Clerk  submitted  a  report  on  the 
regulations,  doubtless  at  the  request  of  the  Standing 
Committee,  who  directed  some  of  its  members  to 
consider  whether  alterations  were  desirable ;  but  the 
matter  proceeded  no  further. 

With  regard  to  the  Order  of  1851,  imposing  a  fine 
of  ^25  on  the  admission  of  an  apprentice  not  closely 
related  to  his  late  master,  it  may  be  stated  that  only 
two  such  fines  were  paid  during  the  following  fifty 
years.  The  first  case,  in  1860,  appears  to  have  caused 
some  excitement.  It  was  the  claim  of  a  prominent 
citizen  (elected  Mayor  two  years  later)  on  the  ground 
that  he  had  just  concluded  an  apprenticeship  for  seven 
years  to  a  member  of  the  Society.  The  candidate  was 



upwards  of  40  years  of  age,  and  had  been  one  of  the 
chiefs  of  an  extensive  manufacturing  firm  throughout 
the  period  of  his  alleged  servitude  to  a  merchant.  There 
being  nothing  in  the  ordinances  to  invalidate  his  claim, 
he  was  admitted  by  the  Hall ;  but  a  bye-law  was  forth- 
with passed  against  "  colourable  "  apprenticeships,  future 
applicants  being  required  to  prove  that  they  were 
indentured  before  reaching  their  eighteenth  year,  and 
had  been  employed  exclusively  in  the  business  of  their 
masters.  It  may  be  added  in  connection  with  the 
subject  that,  in  1822,  a  gentleman  was  rejected  as 
unqualified,  though  the  son  of  a  member,  on  the  ground 
that  he  was  in  holy  orders.  But  no  objection  was 
raised  in  1864  to  the  admission  of  an  officer  in  a 
regiment  of  the  line.  Three  gentlemen  resigned  their 
membership  during  the  century,  two  without  any  oppo- 
sition being  offered  to  their  action ;  but  in  the  third 
and  latest  case,  the  Hall  declined  to  accept  the 
resignation,  which  was  declared  to  be  invalid  until 
authenticated  by  a  legal  instrument. 

The  honorary  members  admitted  during  the  century 
were  as  follows  : — 

1802  Henry  Addington,  Premier. 

1803  H.R.H.  the  Duke  of 


1804  Earl  Melville, 

First  Lord,  Admiralty. 

1805  Admiral  Lord  Barham. 
Admiral  Lord  Collingwood. 

1816  Lord  Melville, 

First  Lord,  Admiralty. 
Duke  of  Wellington,  F.M. 
Lord  Edward  Somerset. 
Lord  Fitzroy  Somerset. 

1825  Earl  of  Liverpool,  Premier. 

George  Canning. 
1834  Lord  Granville  Somerset. 
1840  7th  Duke  of  Beaufort. 

1842  H.R.H.  Duke  of  Cambridge. 

1843  H.R.H.  Prince  Albert. 
1851  P.  W.  S.  Miles,  M.P. 

1854  8th  Duke  of  Beaufort. 

1855  Robert  Bright. 

1856  2nd  Lord  Raglan. 
1866  Duke  of  Buckingham. 

The    routine   of    the    previous    century    in    reference 
to  the  transaction  of  ordinary  business  underwent  little 


alteration.  For  nearly  two  hundred  years,  in  consonance 
with  the  terms  of  the  first  charter  of  Charles  the  First,  the 
members  assembled  for  the  annual  elections  on  November 
loth,  even  when  that  day  fell  on  a  Sunday ;  but  an  Act 
of  Parliament  was  passed  in  1833  for  the  relief  of  many 
corporations,  providing  that  when  a  stipulated  meeting  fell 
upon  a  Lord's  Day,  such  gatherings  should  thenceforth 
take  place  either  on  the  preceding  or  the  following  day ; 
and  the  Society's  elections  in  such  years  have  accordingly 
been  held  either  on  Saturday  or  Monday.  In  1807,  when 
a  difference  of  opinion  arose  in  the  Hall  in  reference  to  the 
Wharfage  Bill  of  the  Corporation,  the  minority  requested 
that  their  formal  protest  against  the  Hall's  decision  should 
be  recorded  in  the  minutes  ;  but  there  being  no  precedent 
for  such  a  course,  the  demand  was  not  complied  with.  In 
1836  a  question  arose  whether  the  Master  was  entitled  to 
a  casting  vote  in  the  appointment  of  an  officer  when  a 
division  showed  an  equality  of  numbers ;  but  no  precedent 
could  be  discovered,  and  the  Clerk  produced  a  legal 
decision  declaring  such  a  vote  invalid.  In  1844  the  old 
rule  imposing  a  fine  on  such  members  of  the  Standing 
Committee  as  absented  themselves  from  meetings  was 
abandoned  as  unworkable ;  and  the  Treasurer  was  ordered 
to  disburse  £i  12s.  6d.  (being  half-a-crown  per  head  for 
the  entire  committee)  for  distribution  amongst  those 
actually  present  at  the  opening  of  each  gathering.  The 
new  system  had  its  intended  effect,  and  is  still  in 
operation.  In  February,  1852,  a  committee  was  appointed 
to  consider  the  bye-laws  relating  to  the  election  of  officers. 
After  deliberations  extending  over  nearly  three  years,  the 
committee  reported  that  the  method  of  electing  Masters 
and  Wardens  had  been  pursued  uninterruptedly  since 
1639,  and  that  no  alteration  seemed  desirable.  The  mode 
of  electing  Assistants  probably  dated  from  the  same 

272  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

period.  Under  it,  the  outgoing  Master  and  four  outgoing 
Assistants  nominated  by  him,  were  always  first  chosen, 
after  which  the  remaining  five  were  chosen  by  ballot  out 
of  ten  nominated  by  the  outgoing  Master.  It  was  recom- 
mended that  the  election  of  the  ex-Master  and  of  the  first 
four  nominated  by  him  should  be  continued,  but  that  the 
appointment  of  the  remaining  five  should  be  thrown  open 
to  the  Hall.  After  the  matter  had  undergone  further 
consideration,  the  Hall,  in  August,  1855,  passed  a  new 
Ordinance,  and  repealed  all  previous  bye-laws.  It  was 
enacted  that,  as  regarded  the  offices  of  Master  and 
Wardens,  three  nominations  should  be  made — one  by  the 
outgoing  Master,  one  by  the  outgoing  Wardens  and 
Assistants,  and  the  third  by  the  assembled  commonalty; 
after  which  those  so  nominated  should  be  put  to  the  vote 
for  election  by  a  majority  of  voices.  As  to  the  Assistants, 
it  was  decreed  that  the  name  of  the  outgoing  Master 
should  be  first  put  to  the  vote,  and  that,  if  elected,  he 
should  be  First  Assistant.  Each  member  present  was 
next  to  hand  in  a  list  containing  the  names  of  four,  or, 
if  the  past  Master  was  not  elected,  five  of  the  Wardens 
and  Assistants  then  present,  and  such  four  or  five  were 
to  be  elected  by  a  plurality  of  votes.  The  remaining 
Assistants  were  finally  to  be  chosen  out  of  the  members 
actually  present.  Provision  was  made  for  a  second  poll 
in  case  of  an  equality  of  votes.  Since  the  passing  of  the 
above  Ordinance,  it  has  become  customary  to  elect  the 
Senior  Warden  of  each  year  to  the  Mastership  of  the 
following  year,  the  Junior  Warden  succeeding  in  the 
same  manner  to  the  Senior  Wardenship.  Owing  to 
unavoidable  circumstances  this  system  was  broken  through 
in  1863,  1867,  and  1878,  when  Mr.  J.  A.  Jones,  Mr.  R.  G. 
Barrow,  and  Mr.  F.  F.  Fox  were  severally  selected  as 
Master  for  a  second  term.  No  vacancy  in  that  office 


through  death  occurred  during  the  century,  but  in 
November,  1813,  the  outgoing  Master,  Mr.  W.  P.  Lunell, 
fractured  a  leg  whilst  on  an  inspection  of  the  Society's 
property,  and  was  unable  to  attend  on  Charter  day ; 
whilst  in  1865  Mr.  O.  C.  Lane  died  only  six  days  after 
leaving  the  Chair,  and  but  a  few  hours  after  his  successor 
had  been  sworn  in  before  him. 

In  1879  the  Society  resolved  that  an  ornamental  badge 
of  office  should  be  thenceforth  worn  by  the  Master  on 
public  occasions,  and  a  sum  of  ^250  was  voted  for  that 

The  general  nature  of  the  Society's  proceedings  under- 
went a  remarkable  change  during  the  progress  of  the 
century.  At  the  outset,  the  Hall  had  to  perform  many 
important  public  duties  of  which  it  was  gradually  relieved 
in  later  years.  As  lessee  of  the  wharfage,  anchorage  and 
cranage  dues  under  the  Corporation,  who  also  delegated 
to  the  Hall  the  regulation  of  pilotage,  river  navigation, 
and  other  cognate  matters,  the  Standing  Committee  found 
constant  employment  in  supervising  the  reparation  of  the 
quays,  cranes,  &c.,  the  removal  of  obstructions  in  the 
Avon,  the  hearing  of  numberless  complaints  relating  to 
the  pilots  and  to  careless  ship  captains,  the  protection 
from  naval  impressment  of  the  large  body  of  watermen 
engaged  in  towing  vessels,  and  the  collection  and  distribu- 
tion of  the  Merchant  Seamen's  Fund.  The  management 
of  the  Society's  Floating  Dock  and  of  the  numerous 
quarry  tenants  of  the  Hall  required  great  watchfulness. 
The  necessity  of  defending  local  commerce  from  hostile 
ships  of  war  and  privateers  was  often  urgent ;  and  some 
efforts  had  to  be  made,  previous  to  the  Battle  of  Trafalgar, 
to  secure  the  harbour  from  a  French  invasion.  Being 
exclusively  mercantile  men,  the  members  of  the  Hall  had 
to  keep  a  vigilant  eye  on  the  financial  and  commercial 


274  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

policy  of  the  Government,  on  the  attempts  of  distant 
harbours  to  levy  passing  tolls  on  Bristol  ships,  and  on 
schemes  of  Londoners  to  snatch  unfair  advantages  to  the 
injury  of  the  outports.  The  administration  of  the  Colston 
Charities  and  the  management  of  their  extensive  endow- 
ments, to  which  further  reference  will  be  made  in  the 
following  chapter,  engrossed  much  of  the  time  of  the 
Standing  Committee.  In  later  years  these  duties  and 
responsibilities  successively  disappeared,  and  the  Society 
were  enabled  to  bestow  a  larger  attention  to  religious, 
educational,  and  philanthropic  objects.  Through  the 
development  of  Clifton  and  the  growth  of  other  sources 
of  revenue,  the  heavy  liabilities  under  which  the  Hall 
laboured  at  the  beginning  of  the  century  were  gradually 
cleared  off,  and  though  the  surplus  revenue  thus  secured 
would  still  seem  derisory  to  one  of  the  great  incorporated 
companies  of  the  capital,  it  was  ungrudgingly  drawn  upon 
from  the  outset,  and  is  still  largely  bestowed  for  the 
benefit  of  the  community. 

As  will  be  shown  in  a  future  chapter,  the  Society 
have  further  contributed  in  the  aggregate  some  ^80,000 
for  the  establishment,  equipment,  and  maintenance  of 
the  Merchant  Venturers'  Technical  College. 

The  Society's  Hall  underwent  various  improvements 
during  the  period  under  review.  In  1851  Mr.  Owen 
Jones,  the  decorator  of  the  first  Crystal  Palace,  was 
employed  to  furnish  designs  for  ornamenting  the  interior 
of  the  building,  involving  a  considerable  outlay.  But 
the  chief  alterations  in  the  premises  were  effected  in 
1871,  when,  in  consequence  of  a  gift  to  the  Society 
by  Mr.  Thomas  Daniel  of  a  house  adjoining  the  Hall, 
the  old  offices  of  the  Treasurer  were  demolished,  and 
new  buildings,  including  a  spacious  and  elegant  com- 
mittee-room, were  erected  on  the  extended  site.  At 


the  sale  of  Mr.  James  Adam  Gordon's  effects  in  1857, 
the  Society  purchased,  for  decorating  the  walls  of  their 
reception  saloon,  a  fine  portrait  of  Queen  Anne,  by 
Kneller,  and  five  others,  believed  to  be  by  Hudson, 
namely,  George  the  First,  George  the  Second  when 
Prince  of  Wales,  the  same  monarch  and  his  consort, 
Queen  Caroline,  and  the  Princess  Augusta,  mother  of 
George  the  Third.  The  portrait  of  Mr.  Robert  Bright, 
already  referred  to,  was  presented  to  the  Hall  in  the 
same  year.  By  permission  of  Queen  Victoria,  copies  were 
obtained  in  1862,  at  a  cost  of  ^250,  of  Winterhalter's 
portraits  of  her  Majesty  and  the  Prince  Consort,  as  a 
memorial  of  the  latter.  And  in  1885  Alderman  Butter- 
worth,  then  Master,  presented  a  portrait  of  Arthur  Hart, 
Master  of  the  Society  in  1688.  A  portrait  of  Mr. 
William  Claxton,  Treasurer  for  thirty- two  years,  was 
presented  in  1873,  a  few  weeks  before  the  death  of  that 
highly-esteemed  officer,  by  Mr.  H.  Cruger  Miles  (Master, 
1871),  and  was  placed  in  the  Treasurer's  room. 

Entertainments  were  offered  in  the  Hall  to  many 
visitors  to  the  city,  the  most  distinguished  being  George, 
Prince  of  Wales  (George  IV.),  H.R.H.  the  Duke  of 
Cumberland  (King  of  Hanover),  H.R.H.  the  Duke  of 
Sussex,  H.R.H.  the  Duchess  of  Teck,  P.M.  the  Duke 
of  Wellington,  the  last  Duke  of  Buckingham,  Earl 
Russell,  Sir  Frederick  (Earl)  Roberts,  and  the  Presidents 
and  leading  members  of  the  British  Association  and 
other  scientific  societies  during  their  meetings  in  the 
city.  Down  to  1841,  when  the  only  other  convenient 
building  for  large  banquets  was  the  Assembly  Room  in 
Prince's  Street,  the  annual  dinners  of  the  Anchor  Society 
were  generally  held  in  the  Hall,  and  it  was  often  granted 
for  celebrations  of  Mr.  Pitt's  birthday  and  other  party 
reunions,  as  well  as  for  meetings  to  promote  railways 

276  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

and  various  public  objects.  In  1817,  probably  at  the 
request  of  the  Government,  it  was  permitted  to  be  used 
for  the  distribution  of  the  new  gold  sovereigns  issued 
in  substitution  of  guineas,  and  of  a  plentiful  coinage  of 
silver  for  which  the  country  had  long  been  clamorous. 
In  1830  and  at  three  subsequent  general  elections,  when 
the  only  polling  booths  in  the  city  were  erected  in  Queen 
Square,  the  Sheriffs  were  allowed  the  use  of  the  Hall 
for  the  accommodation  of  their  staff;  and  after  the 
deplorable  events  of  1831  it  was  the  meeting -place  of 
a  court  martial. 

Continuing  the  record  of  the  Society's  Clerks  (see 
page  229),  Mr.  Jeremiah  Osborne  was  appointed  in  1801 
joint  Clerk  with  his  elder  brother,  John,  who  had  held 
the  office  for  the  previous  five  years.  The  latter  died 
in  February,  1810,  when  his  brother  became  sole  Clerk, 
and  continued  to  perform  the  duties  until  1838,  when, 
on  account  of  failing  health,  his  eldest  son,  Robert,  was 
appointed  his  coadjutor.  The  latter,  after  becoming  sole 
Clerk  on  the  death  of  his  father  in  June,  1842,  held  the 
office  until  his  own  demise  in  1854,  when  his  partner, 
Mr.  Charles  Edward  Ward,  succeeded  to  the  vacancy. 
Mr.  Ward  died  in  March,  1873,  and  the  Society,  as  a 
memorial  of  his  services,  voted  ^400  towards  the  erection 
of  the  west  front  of  the  Cathedral.  The  vacant  office 
was  conferred  upon  Mr.  Jere  Osborne,  nephew  of  the 
above  Robert,  who  had  long  assisted  his  late  partner, 
Mr.  Ward.  On  the  occasion  of  his  marriage  Mr.  Osborne 
was  presented  with  a  massive  silver  salver,  bearing  an 
inscription  eulogising  his  services.  It  is  somewhat  re- 
markable that  of  the  five  members  of  his  family  who 
have  held  the  Clerkship  since  1786,  four  of  them  were 
appointed  when  under  30  years  of  age,  and  the  fifth  was 
only  33. 



A  list  of  the  Treasurers  of  the  Society  will  be  found  at 
the  end  of  the  volume. 

In  1866  Mr.  Thomas  William  Hill  applied  to  the 
Society  for  the  gift  of  a  suitable  piece  of  ground  on 
which  to  erect  an  Almshouse,  for  the  reception  of 
twelve  poor  Church-women  of  the  parishes  of  Clifton 
and  St.  Augustine,  it  being  his  further  intention  to 
endow  the  institution  and  to  place  it,  after  his  own 
demise,  under  the  Society's  supervision.  A  plot  of  land 
in  Gorse  Lane,  Clifton,  was  accordingly  conveyed  to 
him.  By  a  deed  executed  soon  afterwards,  Mr.  Hill 
transferred  to  a  body  of  twelve  trustees  a  capital  sum 
sufficient  to  provide  75.  per  week  for  the  "elder  sister" 
and  55.  per  head  for  the  other  objects  of  his  foundation. 
The  trustees  were  empowered  to  fill  up  vacancies  arising 
from  death  amongst  themselves ;  but  the  Society  were 
given  visitorial  powers  over  the  board,  with  the  right 
of  displacing  any  member  for  breach  of  trust,  and  of 
appointing  his  successor.  Half  of  the  almswomen  were 
to  be  elected  by  the  trustees  and  half  by  the  Society. 
Mr.  Hill,  who  died  in  January,  1874,  bequeathed  his 
large  residuary  estate  to  the  trustees,  who  were  subse- 
quently enabled  to  create  pensions  of  55.  per  week  per 
head  to  forty-six  women  residing  outside  the  almshouse. 

In  conclusion,  some  singular  circumstances  in  con- 
nection with  the  Society's  Almshouse  afford  information 
respecting  a  bygone  charitable  movement  of  Bristolians 
hitherto  unrecorded.  From  documents  referred  to  in  the 
minute  books,  it  appears  that,  in  the  early  years  of  the 
century,  the  doles  to  the  inmates  of  all  the  almshouses  in 
the  city  in  no  case  exceeded  three  shillings  per  week, 
a  sum  which  barely  provided  the  miserable  recipients 
with  bread,  owing  to  the  high  prices  that  prevailed  during 
the  great  French  war.  In  1810  a  notable  Bristol  philan- 

278  THE    SOCIETY    IN 

thropist,  Mr.  Richard  Reynolds,  in  concert  with  Mr.  Philip 
John    Miles   and  others,   started  a   subscription   for  the 
purpose  of  permanently  increasing  the  pay  of  each  of  the 
poor  people  to  five  shillings  per  week.     But  as  the  amount 
actually  raised  was  little  more  than  £12,000,  whilst  the 
sum  required  was  £35,000,  the  money  was  invested  in  the 
purchase  of  300  acres  of  land,  which,  owing  to  the  high 
price  of  grain  and  the  depreciation  of  the  currency,  was 
then  selling  at  far  beyond  its  normal  value.     The  return 
of  peace  brought  about  so  disastrous  a  fall  in  farming 
rents   that   in    1834   the   accumulated    fund   produced  a 
revenue  of  only  £422,  while  a  sum  of  £487  per  annum 
was   required  to  carry  out  the  original  intention.      The 
trustees  then  offered  to  transfer  the  estate  to  the  Society, 
on  condition  that  the  Hall  would  undertake  to  increase 
the  pay  of  the  inmates  in  Colston's  and  other  city  alms- 
houses   to   55.   per  week,    involving   a    yearly   outlay   of 
£331  i  os.,  and  would  apply  the  balance  towards  increasing 
the  dole  to  the  Society's  almsfolk.     The  distress  of  the 
agricultural  interest  was  then  so  extreme,  however,  that 
the  Hall  declined  to  accept  the  responsibility.     In  1839 
the  trustees  made  a  second  proposal,  offering  to  transfer 
a  capital  sum  adequate  to  provide  an  additional  shilling 
weekly  to  the  inmates  of  Colston's  Almshouse,  and  double 
that  amount  to  the  King  Street  almspeople — thus  raising 
both  to  55., — but  desired  an  assurance  from  the  Society 
that   the  payments   then  made   to   the   two   institutions 
would  not  be  reduced ;    but  the  Hall  declined  to  bind 
itself  to  support  a  greater  number  of  persons  than  were 
specified  in  the  trusts,  or  to  continue  a  gratuitous  applica- 
tion of  its  funds  longer  than  it  thought  proper.  Eventually, 
in  September,  1840,  the  surviving  trustees  of  the  fund, 
Mr.  William  Fripp  and  Mr.  Christopher  George,  handed 
over  £3,350  in  3^  per  cent,  stock  to  four  members  of  the 


Society,  in  trust  to  divide  the  interest  amongst  not  less 
than  thirty  inmates  at  King  Street.  A  further  sum  of 
£1,700  in  the  same  stock  was  transferred  for  the  benefit 
of  Colston's  almsfolk.  The  difficulty  of  investing  money 
so  as  to  ensure  a  definite  fixed  income  for  all  future  time 
is  forcibly  illustrated  by  the  subsequent  results  of  this 
arrangement.  The  dividends  on  the  3^  per  cent,  stocks 
have  undergone  four  reductions  since  the  above  benefac- 
tions were  received  by  the  Society,  and  two-sevenths  of 
the  income  from  them  has  disappeared.  The  loss  has 
been  borne  by  the  Hall,  and  the  weekly  payments  have 
not  only  been  maintained,  but  have  been  enlarged.  A 
new  scheme  for  the  management  of  the  Society's  Alms- 
house  came  into  operation  in  1898,  by  which  its  funds 
have  been  placed  on  an  independent  footing. 

With  respect  to  the  practice  of  "  colouring"  the  goods 
of  non-burgesses,  already  frequently  referred  to,  it  may  be 
stated  that  the  Municipal  Reform  Act  of  1835  abolished 
the  exemption  from  local  dues  which  had  previously  been 
a  privilege  of  the  freemen  of  Bristol  and  other  boroughs, 
but  reserved  that  privilege  in  favour  of  freemen  then 
living,  and  of  their  children  and  apprentices  born  or 
indentured  before  June  5th,  1835.  Some  surviving  per- 
sons entitled  to  this  favour  may  therefore  be  still  entitled 
to  claim  it.  At  all  events,  the  practice  of  "colouring" 
goods,  that  is,  of  using  the  name  of  a  freeman  in  order  to 
avoid  the  payment  of  local  dues — said  to  have  been 
formerly  common — may  have  continued  up  to  a  recent 



As  has  been  already  narrated  (page  174),  Mr.  Edward 
Colston  delayed  his  application  for  admission  into  the 
Society  until  the  close  of  1683,  when  he  was  far 
advanced  in  middle  life.  Although  he  had  been  absent 
from  his  native  city  since  childhood,  it  appears  to  have 
retained  a  strong  hold  on  his  affections,  and  to  have 
inspired  him  with  intentions  to  benefit  permanently 
the  poorer  classes  of  inhabitants.  In  August,  1690, 
Mr.  Colston  applied  to  the  Corporation  for  a  grant 
of  about  three  acres  of  land,  called  the  Turtles,  or 
Jonas  Leaze,  on  St.  Michael's  Hill,  for  the  purpose 
of  erecting  an  almshouse,  chapel,  and  other  buildings 
on  the  site ;  when  the  civic  body,  taking  into  consider- 
ation the  charitable  object  in  view,  consented  to  dispose 
of  the  ground  for  the  sum  of  £100.  There  is  no  record 
of  the  opening  of  the  Almshouse,  which  was  built  for 
the  accommodation  of  twelve  men  and  an  equal  number 
of  women,  and  cost  about  ,£2,500.  In  January,  1696, 
the  founder  conveyed  the  property,  together  with  the 
endowment  fund  for  its  maintenance,  chiefly  consisting 
of  fee-farm  rents  that  had  been  acquired  from  the 
Crown,  to  Sir  Richard  Hart  and  twenty- seven  other 
citizens,  chiefly  members  of  the  Merchants'  Society, 
who  were  constituted  managers  of  the  charity,  with 
power  to  appoint  successors.  The  nomination  of  the 
almspeople  was  reserved  to  Mr.  Colston  for  life,  and 
afterwards  to  the  Society  in  perpetuity. 




In  October,  1695,  the  philanthropist  acquainted  the 
Society  of  his  intention  to  provide  them  with  funds 
for  the  maintenance  (at  2s.  per  week  per  head)  of  six 
aged  seamen,  provided  that  rooms  for  that  number  were 
added  to  the  Almshouse  adjoining  the  Hall ;  and  the 
condition  having  been  thankfully  accepted,  and  duly 
fulfilled,  certain  lands  in  Somerset  were  shortly  after- 
wards conveyed  to  members  of  the  Society. 

Correspondence  between  Mr.  Colston  and  the  Society 
relating  to  the  above  transactions  is  printed  at  length 
in  Garrard's  Life  of  Edward  Colston,  pages  386-393. 

In  reference  to  the  endowments  of  Colston's  Alms- 
house,  it  may  be  stated  that,  after  the  Jacobite  Rebellion 
of  1715,  the  estates  of  the  Earl  of  Derwent water  and 
of  several  of  the  Northumbrian  gentry  who  took  part 
in  the  revolt,  out  of  which  fee -farm  rents  were  due 
to  the  Almshouse  under  Mr.  Colston's  Settlement,  were 
confiscated  to  the  Crown  on  the  landowners  being 
convicted  of  high  treason.  The  Society,  however,  took 
immediate  steps  to  establish  their  right,  as  trustees,  to 
the  quit-rents,  and  their  claim  was  at  once  admitted 
by  the  Government.  The  charity  subsequently  received 
two  important  benefactions.  In  1814  Mr.  Hart  Davis 
conveyed  to  the  Society  a  house  and  about  three  acres 
of  land  in  Clifton,  in  trust,  to  apply  the  annual  rental 
(then  £60)  to  increasing  by  one  shilling  the  weekly 
stipend  of  the  almsfolk.  The  Society  passed  a  cordial 
vote  of  thanks  to  the  donor,  and  conferred  the  freedom 
upon  Mr.  Davis  and  his  eldest  son.  The  benefaction 
of  ^1,700  in  1840,  by  which  another  shilling  per  week 
was  added  to  the  dole,  has  been  already  referred  to 
(page  279). 

Mr.  Colston's  first  donation  for  local  educational 
purposes  was  made  in  1695  to  the  Corporation,  to 


whom  he  soon  afterwards  conveyed  two  small  estates  in 
Somerset,  producing  about  £70  per  annum,  which  income 
was  to  be  devoted  to  the  maintenance,  clothing,  and 
education  of  six  additional  boys  in  Queen  Elizabeth's 
Hospital.  The  conveyance  of  the  property  directed  that 
if  the  Corporation  should  thereafter  diminish  the  number 
of  youths  then  in  the  School,  and  should  refuse  to  fill  up 
vacancies  after  being  required  so  to  do  by  the  Merchants' 
Society,  it  should  be  lawful  for  the  latter  body  to  take 
possession  of  the  endowment,  and  to  apply  it  at  their 

In  1702,  when  Mr.  Colston  had  temporarily  returned 
to  Bristol  on  the  death  of  his  mother,  he  acquainted  the 
Corporation  with  his  desire  to  make  a  much  larger 
donation  of  a  similar  character  to  that  just  described. 
The  Common  Council,  in  August,  deputed  five  gentlemen 
(of  whom  three  were  past  Masters  of  the  Society)  to 
thank  Mr.  Colston  for  his  generous  proposal ;  and  a  few 
days  later  that  gentleman  accompanied  the  civic  body  to 
the  Hospital  (then  occupying  the  site  of  the  present 
Merchant  Venturers'  College),  when  an  agreement  was 
signed  by  most  of  those  present  to  subscribe  funds  for 
the  demolition  of  the  old  monastic  buildings,  and  for  the 
erection  of  a  new  Hospital,  to  accommodate  120  poor 
boys.  Mr.  Colston  promised  £500  towards  the  under- 
taking, and  twenty  members  of  the  Corporation  (forming 
a  working  majority  of  the  entire  body)  offered  donations 
amounting  altogether  to  £1,400.  As  the  number  of 
scholars  was  then  only  forty,  it  seems  unquestionable 
that  provision  would  not  have  been  made  for  thrice  that 
number  unless  there  were  good  reasons  for  anticipating 
an  immediate  and  extensive  development.  It  is,  in  fact, 
certain  that  Mr.  Colston  had  intimated  to  the  Corporation 
that  he  was  willing  to  provide  a  sufficient  endowment  for 


adding  about  fifty  more  boys  to  the  existing  roll.  For 
reasons  which  the  civic  records  leave  unexplained,  this 
munificent  offer  was  not  accepted  by  the  Common 
Council,  desirous  as  that  body  evidently  was  to  provide 
the  necessary  accommodation.  That  the  refusal  was 
attributable  to  the  sordid  prejudices  and  absolute  illiteracy 
of  the  governors  of  the  Hospital,  as  is  alleged  in  the 
Life  of  Colston,  may  be  dismissed  as  a  scurrilous  and 
untruthful  libel.  Bearing  in  mind  the  provisions  after- 
wards imposed  by  Mr.  Colston  on  the  Merchants'  Society 
when  founding  his  own  school,  namely,  that  all  the 
children  admitted  into  it  should  not  only  be  carefully 
instructed  in  the  doctrines  of  the  Church  of  England, 
but  that  none  of  them  should,  when  leaving,  be  appren- 
ticed to  a  Dissenter,  it  is  not  unreasonable  to  conjecture 
that  the  proffered  endowment  was  made  subject  to  similar 
conditions.  The  period  was  one  of  fierce  political  passions. 
Before  the  negotiations  were  broken  off,  the  High  Church 
party  had  twice  carried  a  Bill  through  the  House  of 
Commons,  and  it  became  law  soon  afterwards,  under 
which  any  mayor  or  other  member  of  a  civic  corporation, 
"or  any  other  person  bearing  any  office  or  place  or 
employment  relating  to  or  concerning  the  government 
of  any  borough "  [which  clearly  embraced  the  officers 
if  not  all  the  members  of  the  Merchants'  Society]  who 
should,  whilst  holding  such  position,  attend  any  religious 
meeting  of  Dissenters,  was  to  be  fined  £40,  deprived  of 
office,  and  adjudged  incapable  to  hold  any  office  or 
employment  whatever  within  England  and  Wales.  The 
sect  of  Presbyterians  was  at  that  time  influentially  repre- 
sented in  the  Bristol  Corporation,  and  if  Mr.  Colston 
imposed  religious  restrictions  on  his  gift  to  Queen 
Elizabeth's  Hospital,  it  is  not  very  surprising  that  his 
proposal  was  declined. 


After  considering  the  subject  for  about  three  years, 
Mr.  Colston  addressed  a  letter  to  the  Merchants* 
Society,  dated,  "  Mortlake,  March  2ist,  1705-6."  After 
observing : — "  Altho'  my  intention  of  making  provision 
for  fifty  poor  boys  have  been  hardly  censured  by  some 
of  the  inhabitants  of  your  City,  nay,  even  by  some  of 
the  Magistrates,  if  I  have  not  been  wrong  informed,  yet 
the  sense  of  that  hath  not  extinguished  those  thoughts, 
but  I  still  retain  them  ;  "  and  adding  that  a  similar  offer 
for  the  benefit  of  Christ's  Hospital  in  London  would 
doubtless  meet  with  far  different  returns,  he  proceeded  : — 
"  But  altho'  I  have  had  my  education,  and  spent  good 
part  of  my  days  there — yet  since  I  drew  my  first  breath 
in  your  City,  I  rather  incline  that  the  poor  children 
born  there  should  partake  thereof;  therefore  if  your 
Society  will  please  to  undertake  the  trust  (and  are  not 
of  the  opinion  that  gifts  of  that  nature  are  only  a 
nursery  for  beggars  and  sloths,  and  rather  a  burthen 
than  a  benefit  to  the  place  where  they  are  bestowed) 
upon  the  conditions  mentioned  on  the  other  side, 
which  is  a  paragraph  taken  out  of  my  late  will ;  then 
it's  my  desire  that  you  would  take  it  into  consideration." 
The  writer  went  on  to  state  that  he  proposed  to  erect 
a  school  building  on  St.  Michael's  Hill,  adjoining  his 
Almshouse,  capable  of  accommodating  fifty  boys,  "which 
is  the  least  number  I  think  of,"  and  a  master.  As 
to  the  endowment,  he  estimated  that  the  boys  could 
be  fed,  clothed,  and  educated  for  £10  a  head  per 
annum — the  sum  then  expended  at  Queen  Elizabeth's 
Hospital  ;  and  £100  a  year  would  be  added  as  a  pro- 
vision for  placing  them  out  as  apprentices,  at  £5  per 
head,  and  for  other  expenses. 

On  the  receipt  of  this  communication,  a  Hall  was 
held  on  March  2Qth,  1706,  when  it  was  unanimously 



resolved  to  accept  the  trust  proposed  to  be  conferred 
upon  the  Society,  and  to  tender  thanks  for  the  kind 
offer  through  a  committee  appointed  for  that  purpose. 
This  was  accordingly  done  on  the  following  day,  when 
the  committee  returned  hearty  acknowledgments  for  the 
charitable  proposals,  approved  of  the  proposed  site  and 
of  the  intended  provision  for  the  school,  but  expressed 
a  doubt  whether  the  apprentice  fee  would  suffice  to 
secure  good  masters.  The  latter  point  was  afterwards 
pressed  by  the  Society,  who  informed  Mr.  Colston  that 
if  he  would  raise  the  endowment  to  ^640  per  annum, 
"  they  would  with  all  gratitude  and  thankfulness  under- 
take the  trust  imposed  upon  them."  Mr.  Colston 
assented,  and  estates  at  Locking,  Beere,  and  other 
places  in  Somerset,  producing  a  net  income  slightly 
exceeding  the  estimated  charge,  were  conveyed  to 
trustees  nominated  by  the  Society. 

The  intended  site  being  afterwards  disapproved  as 
inadequate,  the  Hall  recommended  the  purchase  of  the 
Great  House  on  St.  Augustine's  Back,  which  had  been 
thrice  the  temporary  abode  of  royal  visitors,  but  had 
fallen  from  its  high  estate,  and  had  long  been  degraded 
into  a  sugar  refinery.  The  property  having  been 
purchased  by  Mr.  Colston  in  1707,  for  ^1,300,  its 
adaptation  for  its  new  purposes  was  forthwith  under- 
taken. The  deed  settling  the  various  endowments  had 
been  actually  engrossed,  when,  in  April,  1708,  Mr.  Colston 
informed  the  Hall  of  his  intention  to  provide  for  double 
the  number  of  scholars,  and  the  Society  at  once  accepted 
the  enlarged  trust,  providing  that  a  proportionate  increase 
were  made  in  the  endowment.  In  response,  Mr.  Colston 
undertook  to  convey  a  further  sum  of  about  £600  per 
annum,  consisting  of  fee-farm  rents  purchased  from  the 
Crown  at  an  earlier  date.  The  Hall  had  undertaken  to 


clothe  the  boys,  but  the  founder  resolved  on  furnishing 
the  first  batch  of  scholars  "each  with  a  suit  of  clothes, 
cap,  band,  shirt,  stockings,  shoes,  buckle,  spoon  and 
porringer — one  of  each.  Also  brewing  utensils,  barrels, 
bedding,  sheets,  towels,  tablecloths."  (Knives  and  forks 
appear  to  have  been  thought  an  unnecessary  equipment.) 
All  preparations  having  been  completed,  the  Hospital 
was  opened  in  July,  1710,  a  special  service  being  held  on 
the  occasion  in  the  Cathedral.  The  first  pupils  were 
nominated  by  the  founder,  who  reserved  that  privilege 
for  life,  but  occasionally  requested  the  Society  to  recom- 
mend fitting  candidates.  Subsequently,  the  patronage 
was  equally  divided  between  the  Hall  and  a  body  of 
gentlemen  styled  Nominees,  appointed  by  Mr.  Colston, 
and  empowered  to  fill  up  vacancies  amongst  themselves 
in  perpetuity.  Under  the  provisions  of  the  Hospital 
Settlement,  boys  bearing  the  name  of  Colston,  or  proving 
kindred  with  the  founder's  family,  were  entitled  to 
admission  in  preference  to  any  others,  if  otherwise  eligible, 
and  the  privilege  was  frequently  claimed. 

In  1718  the  Society  fell  under  Mr.  Colston's  temporary 
displeasure.  The  first  schoolmaster  having  received 
notice  of  dismissal  for  incompetence,  a  letter  was  received 
from  Mortlake,  recommending  that  a  person  named 
Tooker,  probably  a  member  of  a  respectable  Bristol 
family  of  that  name,  should  be  selected  for  the  vacant 
office.  But  the  Hall,  having  discovered  that  Tooker  was 
so  headstrong  a  Jacobite  as  to  have  refused  to  take  the 
oath  of  allegiance  to  George  the  First,  resolved  that  he 
was  unfit  for  the  post — which  he  was  in  fact  disqualified 
by  law  to  fill — and  forthwith  appointed  another  candidate. 
Mr.  Colston's  irritation  at  this  proceeding  is  visible  in  a 
letter  addressed  soon  afterwards  to  the  Hall.  Admitting 
that  the  Society  were  empowered  to  elect  a  master,  he 



observed  that  if  the  members  had  acted  with  common 
civility,  they  would  not  have  been  surprised  at  his  having 
resented  their  haste  in  making  the  appointment  before 
their  disapproval  of  Tooker  was  communicated  to  him. 
He  had  not,  he  added,  the  least  knowledge  that  his 
nominee  was  a  non-juror.  Under  these  circumstances  he 
hoped  that  no  objection  would  be  made  to  the  insertion 
of  a  "  clause  "  in  the  Hall  books,  to  the  effect  that  he 
did  not  merely  endow  the  Hospital  for  the  bare  feeding 
of  a  hundred  boys,  but  chiefly  that  they  should  be  bred 
up  in  the  doctrines  of  the  Church  of  England,  and  he 
conjured  the  Hall,  for  all  time,  to  take  effectual  care 
towards  that  end,  and  to  see  that  no  boy  was  ever 
apprenticed  to  a  Dissenter,  as  they  would  be  answerable 
for  that  breach  of  trust  at  the  last  great  Tribunal.  The 
"clause,"  as  well  as  the  letter  itself,  was  accordingly 
inserted  in  the  minute  book.  So  long  as  the  Hospital 
was  under  the  governance  of  the  Society,  the  founder's 
instructions  were  so  carefully  regarded  that  out-going 
pupils  were  not  permitted  to  apprentice  themselves  to 
firms  of  which  even  a  single  partner  was  a  Dissenter. 

The  arrangements  of  the  school  under  the  scheme 
originally  drawn  up,  and  adhered  to  for  many  generations, 
now  seem  extremely  parsimonious.  The  master  charged 
with  the  training  of  100  boys,  and  required  to  find  slender 
stipends  for  two  assistant  teachers,  had  no  salary;  such 
remuneration  as  he  received  being  derived  from  the 
profit  made  on  his  contract  to  educate,  maintain,  and 
clothe  the  scholars  for  the  yearly  sum  of  £10  per  head. 
The  regimen  of  the  youths  was  thus  necessarily  of 
a  Spartan  character.  Animal  food  was  served  for 
dinner  on  only  three  days  a  week ;  the  fare  on  the 
other  four  days  being  simply  bread,  or  bread,  butter, 
and  boiled  pease,  or  bread  and  pottage.  Breakfast 


consisted  of  bread  with  a  very  little  butter,  or  bread 
and  broth.  For  supper  a  small  piece  of  meat  was 
served  on  Sundays ;  on  other  days  a  scanty  allowance 
of  bread  and  cheese  was  the  only  provision.  In  lieu 
of  tea  and  coffee,  which  were  then  expensive,  each  boy 
was  allowed  thrice  a  day  a  pint  of  table  beer,  brewed 
on  the  premises  by  the  master  at  a  trifling  cost.  Another 
economical  expedient  ruled  in  the  dormitory,  where 
two  of  the  elder  or  three  of  the  younger  boys  occupied 
each  bed.  Even  under  these  conditions,  the  master's 
profit,  after  defraying  the  annual  tailor's  and  shoemaker's 
bills,  must  have  been  inconsiderable ;  and  the  Society, 
recognising  the  fact,  were  accustomed  to  appoint  him 
as  their  Beadle.  As  his  time  was  thus  largely  absorbed 
in  the  collection  of  rents  and  the  supervision  of  repairs 
to  property,  not  only  in  Bristol  but  on  the  extensive 
charity  estates  in  various  parts  of  Somerset,  his  scholastic 
duties  must  have  been  perfunctorily  discharged.  (This 
remissness,  indeed,  was  complained  of  by  Mr.  Colston  in 
his  final  Settlement.)  Towards  the  close  of  the  eighteenth, 
and  during  the  first  two  decades  of  the  nineteenth 
centuries,  when  bread  was  frequently  at  famine  prices, 
a  more  liberal  yearly  grant  was  found  indispensable.  A 
salary  of  ^"50  was  voted  to  the  master,  and  the  allowance 
for  food  and  clothing  was  advanced  step  by  step  until 
it  reached  ^17  per  head  in  1810,  and  £18  in  1814,  when 
the  master's  stipend  was  raised  to  £100.  Long  before 
this  inflation  commenced,  the  Society  had  learnt  from 
painful  experience  that,  in  accepting  the  terms  of 
Mr.  Colston's  Settlements  on  the  Hospital  and  Alms- 
house,  their  predecessors  had  greatly  underestimated 
the  liabilities  that  would  accrue  from  the  trusts.  As 
the  cost  of  living  was  nearly  always  increasing,  while 
the  large  income  derived  from  fee-farm  rents  was 


absolutely  stationary,  the  yearly  expenditure  for  a 
lengthy  period  almost  invariably  exceeded  the  revenue. 
A  portion  of  the  deficit,  it  is  true,  arose  from  the 
reluctance  of  Mr.  Colston's  heirs  to  carry  out  his 
testamentary  instructions,  which,  after  more  than  thirty 
years'  resistance,  they  were  compelled  to  do  by  a  decree 
of  the  Court  of  Chancery  in  1769,  under  which  the 
Society  recovered  upwards  of  £3,000  for  arrears,  and 
an  additional  yearly  income  of  over  £200.  Another 
troublesome  litigant  was  the  Duke  of  Bolton,  who 
obstinately  refused  to  pay  the  fee-farm  rent  issuing 
out  of  his  estate  at  Kidwelly.  Twelve  years'  arrears, 
amounting  to  .£1,200,  were  due  from  him  in  1748,  when 
a  suit  for  their  recovery  had  been  pending  against  him 
for  a  lengthy  period ;  but  his  grace  unblushingly  claimed 
his  privileges  as  a  peer  to  prevent  the  action  being 
brought  to  trial,  and  it  was  only  by  great  legal  dexterity 
that  he  was  forced  to  capitulate  in  1749.  But  the  sums 
accruing  from  these  sources  far  from  sufficed  to  restore 
a  financial  equilibrium,  and  the  amount  due  to  the  Hall 
for  the  advances  it  had  to  make  afterwards  exceeded 
£11,000,  involving  the  Society  in  a  considerable  bonded 
debt.  By  1788,  however,  the  farming  rents  arising  from 
the  Somerset  charity  estates  had  increased  by  £700  per 
annum  as  compared  with  the  receipts  when  the  lands 
were  purchased,  and  the  encumbrance  was  gradually 
reduced,  notwithstanding  the  additional  expenditure 
already  referred  to. 

Having  regard  to  the  class  from  which  the  Colston 
Boys  were  chiefly  drawn,  and  the  rough  manners  of 
the  lower  orders  of  society  in  the  eighteenth  century, 
it  is  not  surprising  to  find  that  the  Hospital  Committee 
were  frequently  called  on  to  deal  vigorously  with 
outbreaks  of  insubordination  and  violence  amongst  'the 



scholars.  To  take  a  few  examples,  boys  who  had 
committed  thefts,  or  assaulted  the  ushers,  were  given 
the  choice  of  being  prosecuted  for  their  offences,  or  of 
being  flogged  by  the  master  and  delivered  to  serve  in 
the  Royal  Navy.  On  one  occasion,  when  fourteen 
youths,  one  of  whom  had  rejoiced  in  the  name  of 
Young  Turpin,  were  brought  up  charged  with  shearing 
off  an  usher's  hair  during  the  night,  destroying  their 
long  coats,  and  escaping  from  the  Hospital,  the  Com- 
mittee ordered  six  of  the  culprits  to  be  scourged  in  their 
presence,  "which  was  done  with  much  seriousness," 
and  the  others  were  expelled  as  incorrigible.  A  dread 
instrument  called  the  Wooden  Collar  was  also  occasion- 
ally called  into  requisition.  Although  sanitary  regulations 
were  little  attended  to  in  that  age,  the  condition  of  the 
Hospital  appears  to  have  been  generally  satisfactory. 
On  only  one  occasion  was  an  epidemic  reported  in  the 
institution ;  and  although  nearly  half  the  boys  were 
under  medical  treatment,  only  two  cases  proved  fatal. 

A  somewhat  singular  benefaction  was  made  to  the 
Hospital  in  1814.  From  information  contained  in  the 
minute  books  we  learn  that  a  boy  named  Philip  Jones 
was  admitted  into  the  school  in  1765,  on  the  nomina- 
tion of  the  Society,  and  that  he  bore  the  number 
76  in  the  roll  of  scholars.  Jones  eventually  became 
prosperous  in  business,  and  being  desirous  of  showing 
his  gratitude  for  the  education  he  had  received,  he 
transferred,  in  1814,  the  sum  of  £500  in  5  per  cent, 
stock  to  certain  members  of  the  Society,  in  trust,  that 
they  should,  out  of  the  yearly  interest,  lay  by  £5 
annually  for  the  benefit  of  every  subsequent  boy 
numbered  76,  the  lump  sum  to  be  paid  to  each  such 
youth  on  leaving  the  Hospital.  If  a  Number  76  died 
whilst  a  scholar,  or  was  considered  unworthy  of  the 



gift,  the  accumulated  sum  was  to  benefit  his  next 
successor.  The  remainder  of  the  income  of  the  trust, 
after  the  distribution  of  a  shilling  apiece  to  the  other 
scholars,  was  to  be  given  to  the  schoolmaster.  From 
some  inadvertence  in  keeping  the  roll,  the  proper 
descent  of  each  number,  including  Number  76,  had  not 
been  attended  to,  and  all  Jones's  successors  had  been 
chosen  by  the  Nominees  instead  of  by  the  Society, 
thus  clearly  disappointing  the  donor's  intentions.  The 
subject  having  been  brought  before  the  Hall  in  1844, 
the  Nominees  were  requested  to  consider  the  case ;  and 
they  shortly  afterwards  agreed  that  the  next  election 
of  Number  76  should  be  left  to  the  Society,  and  that 
future  nominations  should  be  made  by  the  two  bodies 
alternately.  Another  bequest  of  a  like  character  was 
made  by  one  William  Vaughan,  of  Dixton,  Monmouth, 
who  bequeathed  ^115  to  the  Society  in  1798,  the  yearly 
interest  of  which  he  directed  to  be  expended  every 
Colston  Day  in  giving  half-a-crown  to  scholar  Number 
49,  the  same  sum  to  the  boy  who  was  doorkeeper  for 
that  week,  and  one  shilling  each  to  the  others.  On  the 
reorganisation  of  the  Hospital,  to  be  referred  to  here- 
after, the  old  system  of  numbering  was  abolished,  and 
it  was  resolved  that  Jones's  gift  to  Number  76  should 
thenceforth  be  awarded,  on  each  vacancy,  to  a  boy 
who  had  been  one  or  two  years  in  the  school,  as 
a  reward  for  meritorious  conduct  rather  than  for 

In  1837,  the  system  of  "farming"  the  Colston  Boys 
to  the  schoolmaster  at  a  fixed  yearly  sum  was  abolished, 
and  a  committee,  that  had  been  appointed  to  improve 
the  general  management  of  the  Hospital,  soon  afterwards 
reported  their  proceedings  to  the  Hall.  The  dietary 
regulations  that  had  been  in  force  since  the  opening  of 


the  institution  had  been  superseded  by  new  tables  based 
on  the  system  pursued  at  Christ's  Hospital ;  the  large 
allowances  of  beer  had  been  discontinued,  and  the  food 
made  more  generous.  The  old  scheme  of  education, 
which  had  been  found  inferior  to  that  in  force  in  modern 
parochial  schools,  had  been  elevated  and  extended.  The 
only  recreation  of  the  boys,  consisting  of  "stamping 
about  the  court  in  pairs,"  had  been  replaced  by  active 
games  and  amusements ;  the  practice  of  allotting  three 
lads  to  a  bed  had  been  remedied  by  additions  to  the 
dormitory ;  the  menial  duties  imposed  on  the  youths 
had  been  mitigated  by  the  employment  of  another 
servant ;  and  the  entire  building  had  been  renovated 
and  improved.  The  new  regulations  proved  to  be  more 
economical  than  the  old  system,  for  although  the  salary 
of  the  headmaster  was  raised  to  £210,  with  furniture 
provided  for  his  private  rooms,  and  votes  were  granted 
for  establishing  a  school  library  and'  various  recreations, 
a  saving  of  ^300  per  annum  was  effected.  A  little 
later,  prizes  were  offered  yearly  to  meritorious  pupils, 
navigation  classes  were  introduced,  and  singing  was 
taught  by  an  efficient  master. 

Certain  Royal  Commissioners  appointed  to  enquire 
into  the  Public  Charities  of  the  kingdom  visited  Bristol 
in  1836,  and  a  subsequent  prolonged  investigation  into 
local  endowments  was  made  by  one  of  their  agents. 
An  unexpected  result  of  these  proceedings  was  the 
filing,  in  the  Court  of  Chancery,  by  the  Attorney- 
General,  in  July,  1839,  of  an  Information  against  the 
Society  in  reference  to  a  leasehold  estate  held  by 
them  under  Eton  College,  but  alleged  by  the  Com- 
missioners to  form  part  of  the  endowments  of  Colston's 
Hospital.  As  the  newspaper  reports  of  judicial  pro- 
ceedings were  at  that  period  very  brief  and  defective, 


many  important  circumstances  bearing  upon  the  case 
were  never  laid  before  the  public.  The  following 
summary  of  the  facts,  based  upon  legal  documents  in 
possession  of  the  Hall  and  the  pleadings  on  each  side, 
has  been  kindly  communicated  by  Mr.  W.  W.  Ward: — 

"  During  the  year  1708  and  the  three  preceding  years 
Mr.  Colston  had  been  in  constant  communication  with 
the  Society  with  reference  to  the  establishment  and 
endowment  of  the  Charity  afterwards  known  as  Colston's 
Hospital.  Negotiations  for  the  purchase  of  the  Beere 
Manor  Estate,  in  Somerset,  were  entered  into  by  the 
Society,  acting  on  Mr.  Colston's  behalf,  with  a  Colonel 
Bowyer ;  and  it  was  eventually  agreed  that  the  purchase 
money  should  be  £9,000  and  150  guineas,  and  that  part 
of  the  property  should  remain  in  the  occupation  of 
Colonel  Bowyer  and  his  wife  during  their  lives  at  an 
annual  rent  of  £315,  but  that,  on  payment  by  him  of 
£2,500  to  the  Society,  the  rent  payable  by  him  should  be 
reduced  to  £5  a  year,*  the  Society  covenanting  to  pay  the 
balance  of  £310  a  year  for  the  purposes  of  the  Charity 
during  the  lives  of  Colonel  Bowyer  and  his  wife.  These 
negotiations  were  all  fully  reported  to  Mr.  Colston,  as 
the  records  of  the  Society  prove  beyond  doubt,  and  the 
purchase  was  completed  in  1708.  In  the  same  year 
Mr.  Colston  conveyed  the  Beere  Manor  with  other 
property  to  the  Society,  with  the  view  of  providing  the 
income  necessary  for  the  maintenance  of  the  Charity.  In 
the  early  part  of  the  following  year,  1709,  legal  effect  was 

*  The  object  of  this  arrangement,  which  was  solicited  by  Bowyer,  came  to  light 
after  his  death.  Long  before  the  sale  of  the  manor  to  Mr.  Colston,  the  property 
had  been  encumbered  by  two  "  extents,"  one  for  £700  and  the  other  for  £1,000, 
obtained  by  two  of  his  numberless  creditors.  These  charges  Bowyer  succeeded  in 
concealing  from  Mr.  Colston's  legal  advisers ;  but  as  the  fraud  would  have  been  at 
once  discovered  if  the  Society  had  taken  possession  as  trustees,  he  induced  the  Hall 
to  accept  him  as  lessee  of  the  manor  for  life  on  the  terms  stated  above.  Upon  his 
demise,  the  holders  of  the  "extents"  raised  suits  for  the  recovery  of  their  money, 
and  Mr.  Colston's  executors  were  compelled  to  disburse  £1,400  in  discharge  of  the 
larger  claim.  How  the  other  "  extent "  was  got  rid  of  is  not  recorded. 


given  to  the  arrangements  made  with  Colonel  Bowyc  r ; 
but  of  the  £2,500  agreed  to  be  paid  for  the  reduction  of 
his  rent,  only  £500  was  paid  in  cash,  the  payment  of  the 
balance  being  accepted  by  the  assignment  of  a  mortgage 
debt  of  £2,000  secured  on  a  lease  from  Eton  College  for 
a  term  of  years  of  the  Manor  of  Monkton  at  Stogursey. 
In  1713,  there  being  interest  in  arrear  and  a  fine  for 
renewal  due,  if  renewal  were  desired,  the  Society  paid  the 
fine  to  Eton  College  and  obtained  a  new  lease  in  trust  to 
secure  £2,610,  that  sum  representing  the  principal  and 
interest  due  to  the  Society  and  the  arrears  of  rent  and 
renewal  fine  paid  by  them.  The  mortgage  remained 
unpaid,  and  in  course  of  time  Eton  College  accepted 
the  Society  as  lessees  of  the  manor,  which  was  thus  held 
at  the  date  of  the  Commissioners'  enquiry. 

"The  Books  of  the  Society  showed  that  the  rents 
payable  by  the  Society  during  the  lives  of  the  Bowyers 
had  been  paid  or  accounted  for;  that  in  1771  the 
advances  made  by  the  Society  on  behalf  of  the  Charity 
amounted  to  £10,000  or  thereabouts,  and  that  the  repre- 
sentatives of  Mr.  Colston  paid  to  the  Society  the  sum  of 
£3,000  in  settlement  of  past  and  future  claims  on  account 
of  taxes  agreed  by  him  to  be  paid  ;  that  the  surplus 
rents  arising  from  the  increased  value  of  the  properties, 
including  those  of  the  Manor  of  Stogursey,  had  been 
applied,  technically,  perhaps,  to  the  use  of  the  Society, 
but,  as  a  matter  of  fact,  in  the  reduction  of  the  advances 
made  to  the  Charity;  and  that  there  would  still  be  a 
balance  of  several  thousand  pounds  due  to  the  Society 
on  an  account  taken  of  the  whole  concern.  All  this 
was  practically  admitted.  It  was  also  admitted  that 
the  Society  had  properly  maintained  the  Charity  and 
performed  the  duties  imposed  upon  them.  But  the  claim 
of  the  Commissioners  was  that  the  Society  ought  to  be 



charged  with  the  ^500  paid  by  Colonel  Bowyer  in  1709, 
and  interest,  and  with  the  ^2,000  secured  on  mortgage 
of  the  Manor  of  Stogursey,  and  interest;  that,  in  the 
alternative,  as  regarded  the  ^2,000,  the  Manor  of 
Stogursey  should  be  declared  the  property  of  the 
Chanty;  that  any  surplus  of  its  rents  was  applicable 
for  charitable  purposes ;  and  that,  therefore,  the  Society 
were  not  justified  at  any  time  in  applying  the  surplus 
as  a  set-off  against  former  losses. 

"The  claim  came  on  the  Society  as  a  complete 
surprise.  For  over  120  years  they  had  regarded  the 
leasehold  manor  as  their  own  property ;  their  administra- 
tion of  the  Charity  had  never  been  impeached ;  they 
believed  that  they  had  not  merely  fulfilled  their  part  of 
the  bargain  with  Mr.  Colston,  but  had  done  more  than 
could  have  been  legally  required  of  them  in  the  main- 
tenance of  his  school. 

"  The  question  at  issue  depended  upon  the  nature  of 
the  arrangement  made  between  Mr.  Colston  and  the 
Society  in  1708.  The  view  of  the  Society  was  that  a 
definite  bargain  had  been  made,  by  which  they  undertook 
certain  obligations  in  consideration  of  being  put  into 
possession  of  the  lands  and  rents  out  of  which  the 
expenses  of  maintenance  were  payable.  This  no  doubt 
was  the  traditional  view  in  the  Merchants'  Hall.  The 
Trust,  it  was  believed,  had  been  accepted  on  the  basis 
of  a  bargain,  very  carefully  worked  out  between  Mr. 
Colston  and  the  Society,  and  the  bargain  for  better  or 
worse  was  binding  for  all  time.  They  had  taken  the 
estates  on  the  understanding  that  if,  as  had  been  the 
case  in  the  early  years  of  the  Charity,  the  rents  were 
insufficient,  they  were  to  find  the  balance;  and  it  followed, 
they  thought,  as  a  natural  consequence,  that  if  the  rents 
increased  they  were  entitled  to  apply  the  surplus  to  their 


own  use ;  or,  which  was  technically  the  same  thing, 
towards  the  reduction  of  their  advances  to  the  Chanty. 
It  seemed  hard  to  imagine  that  in  1708  either  Mr. 
Colston  or  the  Society  intended  that  the  Society  should 
engage  to  maintain  the  Charity  during  the  remainder  of 
Mr.  Colston's  life,  as  well  as  afterwards,  for  his  bene- 
ficiaries, at  a  possible,  if  not  certain,  loss,  and  without  the 
possibility  of  reimbursement. 

"  After  the  lapse  of  so  many  years  there  was  little 
evidence  forthcoming  of  the  conduct  of  the  contracting 
parties  indicative  of  their  intention.  The  date  of  the 
Deed  of  Settlement  was  1708:  the  Society  became 
virtual  owners  of  the  Stogursey  Manor  under  Eton 
College  in  1713:  Mr.  Colston  did  not  die  till  1721: 
he  was  a  member  of  the  Society  and  the  Visitor  of  the 
Charity :  accounts  were  rendered  him  in  a  form  not 
inconsistent  with  the  view  of  the  Society :  by  his  Will 
he  referred  to  the  Deed  of  Settlement,  and  made  further 
provision  in  the  event  of  the  rents  decreasing  and  the 
loss  falling  on  the  Society.  All  this  did  not  come  to 
much.  It  sufficed,  perhaps,  to  raise  the  presumption 
that  no  difference  of  opinion  had  arisen  between 
Mr.  Colston  and  the  Society  as  to  the  nature  of  the 
arrangement.  But  even  if  the  intention  of  the  parties, 
as  inferred  from  their  conduct,  could  have  been  more 
precisely  ascertained,  it  is  doubtful  how  far  it  would 
have  affected  the  mind  of  a  judge,  if  it  was  repugnant 
to  the  intention  which  he  held  was  to  be  inferred  from 
a  true  construction  of  the  Deed.  Looking,  then,  at  the 
Deed  of  Settlement  itself,  the  Society  found  much  to 
support  their  contention.  It  constituted  a  Trust,  of 
course  ;  but  the  terms  of  a  bargain  also  were  clearly 
written  on  its  face. 

"Where    Trust    and    Contract   were   so   interwoven, 


which  element  was  to  prevail  ?  Was  it  a  Trust 
regulated  by  Contract,  or  a  Contract  resulting  in  a 
Trust  ?  Put  in  another  form,  the  question  was  whether 
under  the  Deed  the  Society  became  owners  of  the 
estates  subject  to  the  maintenance  of  the  Charity,  or 
whether  they  were  Trustees  of  the  estates  for  the 
purpose  of  the  maintenance  of  the  Charity.  Similar 
as  these  two  propositions  seem,  they  lead  to  very 
different  results.  In  the  one  case,  the  Society  would 
be  entitled  to  the  estates  subject  to  a  specific  charge ; 
in  the  other  case,  they  would  be  Trustees  of  the  whole, 
whatever  increase  there  might  be  in  the  revenue  of  the 
Charity.  The  ownership  of  the  Manor  of  Stogursey 
held  under  Eton  College  was  involved  in  the  same 
question.  If  the  Society  were  Trustees  of  the  whole 
estates,  then,  inasmuch  as  the  Stogursey  property  had 
been  acquired  through  dealings  with  the  Chanty 
property,  it  obviously  followed  that  it  formed  part  of 
the  Charity  property,  should  the  Charity  so  elect. 
Such  an  issue  could,  of  course,  be  only  settled  by 
judicial  decision,  and  the  litigation  that  ensued  resulted 
in  favour  of  the  Commissioners.  The  case  came  on 
for  hearing  in  1842  before  Lord  Langdale,  Master  of 
the  Rolls,  who,  having  heard  very  lengthy  arguments 
on  either  side,  held  that  the  Deed,  though  founded  on 
Contract,  resulted  in  Trust,  and  that,  consequently,  the 
Charity  was  entitled  to  the  whole  of  the  rents,  including 
all  profits  derived  from  the  Manor  of  Stogursey.  He 
stated,  however,  that  there  was  a  great  deal  to  be 
urged  on  behalf  of  the  Society,  who  seemed  to  have 
conducted  the  Charity  very  rightly,  and  he  marked  his 
sense  of  the  good  faith  shown  by  the  Society  in  circum- 
stances of  such  obscurity  and  difficulty  'by  accepting 
the  proposal  of  the  Attorney-General  that  the  account 


should  not  go  back  further  than  the  filing  of  the  Bill 
in  Chancery.  The  costs  on  both  sides  were  ordered 
to  be  taken  out  of  the  rents  which  should  be  found 

"The  Society  appealed,  but  without  success,  Lord 
Chancellor  Cottenham  confirming  the  previous  decree 
in  January,  1848.  Upon  the  account  being  taken,  the 
balance  eventually  found  due  by  the  Society  was 
£3,817  165.  5^.,  the  amount  of  the  original  claim  with 
accumulated  interest  having  been  £17,500.  The  lease 
of  the  Manor  of  Stogursey  was  afterwards  held  by  the 
Society  in  trust  for  the  Charity  until  the  year  1886, 
when  Eton  College  took  the  Manor  into  their  own 

In  February,  1849,  the  Hospital  Committee  reported 
that,  in  consequence  of  the  transfer  of  Monkton  manor, 
and  the  increased  income  from  other  estates  of  the 
Charity,  the  surplus  funds  then  available  would  admit 
of  an  addition  of  twenty  boys  to  the  School,  and  that 
the  needful  increased  accommodation  could  be  provided, 
and  the  existing  buildings  generally  improved,  out  of 
money  then  available.  It  was  resolved  to  draw  up  a 
scheme  for  carrying  out  those  objects,  in  order  to  obtain 
the  sanction  of  the  Court  of  Chancery ;  but  no  progress 
appears  to  have  been  made  until  1857,  when  a  scheme, 
emanating  from  a  Master  in  Chancery,  and  approved 
by  the  Master  of  the  Rolls,  empowered  the  Society  to 
increase  the  number  of  scholars,  to  build  additional 
dormitories,  and  to  borrow  £4,000,  if  necessary,  to  supple- 
ment the  available  funds  in  hand.  On  the  receipt  of 
this  document,  many  members  seem  to  have  questioned 
the  desirability  of  expending  a  considerable  sum  on  a 
site  which  they  regarded  as  inconvenient,  unsuitable, 


and  unhealthy  for  so  extensive  an  institution.  The 
Bishop's  Palace,  at  Stapleton,  reconstructed  about 
twenty  years  previously,  but  abandoned  as  an  episcopal 
residence  after  the  death  of  Dr.  Monk  in  1856,  was 
then  being  offered  for  sale  by  the  Ecclesiastical  Com- 
missioners, who  had  spent  about  .£24,000  on  the  property. 
After  negotiations  had  taken  place  with  that  body,  the 
Society,  in  September,  1858,  approved  of  the  purchase 
of  the  estate  for  £12,000,  the  Hall  undertaking  to  pay 
one  half  of  that  sum  for  part  of  the  Palace  grounds 
and  lands  not  required  for  the  Hospital. 

The  Society's  policy  was  condemned  by  four  dissen- 
tient trustees  and  by  many  citizens  as  being  in  manifest 
contradiction  to  the  intentions  of  Mr.  Colston,  who 
had  prescribed  that  the  Hospital  should  be  maintained 
"for  ever"  in  the  mansion  he  had  provided  for  it.  Six 
past  Masters  and  some  other  members  of  the  Society, 
the  living  representatives  of  Mr.  Colston,  many  members 
of  the  Corporation,  and  several  of  the  city  clergy  were 
prominent  in  their  opposition  to  the  scheme.  The 
Chanty  Commissioners,  however,  strongly  approved  of 
removing  the  Hospital  from  a  crowded  locality  to  more 
healthful  surroundings,  and  appeals  to  the  Master  of 
the  Rolls  to  refuse  his  assent  to  the  proposal  were 
unsuccessful,  the  dissentient  trustees  being  also  amerced 
in  costs.  A  large  dining-room  and  a  house  for  the  head- 
master having  been  added  to  the  premises,  which 
underwent  various  modifications  to  fit  them  for  the 
ultimate  reception  of  140  boys,  at  a  total  cost  of 
£3,000,  the  "  Great  House "  was  abandoned  for  the 
new  Hospital  in  October,  1861.  Many  improvements 
were  effected  in  the  curriculum  of  the  school  in  sub- 
sequent years,  and  handsome  sums  were  voted  for 
giving  the  lads  annual  trips  to  interesting  places, 


establishing  athletic  sports,  increasing  the  library,  and 
offering  additional  prizes.  One  of  the  latest  develop- 
ments of  the  period  was  the  introduction  of  teaching 
in  experimental  science.  But  a  revolutionary  change 
was  then  imminent. 

In  the  Session  of  1869  an  Act  of  Parliament  was 
passed  having  for  its  object  the  reform  and  reorganisation 
of  the  Endowed  Schools  of  the  kingdom.  Whilst  the 
measure  was  under  discussion,  the  local  governing  bodies 
appealed  to  the  Government  for  the  exemption  of  Bristol 
from  its  provisions ;  but  the  Minister  who  had  charge  of 
the  Bill,  in  declining  compliance,  assured  the  applicants 
that  as  the  Bristol  endowments  were  admirably  managed 
the  measure  was  not  intended  to  apply  to  them.  In 
despite  of  this  assurance,  however,  the  Commissioners 
appointed  under  the  Act  directed  one  of  their  delegates, 
Mr.  Fitch,  to  inquire  into  the  management  and  working 
of  the  great  educational  institutions  of  the  city;  and  that 
gentleman,  in  1870,  produced  a  report  of  a  somewhat 
extraordinary  character.  He  recommended,  in  short,  the 
practical  abolition  of  Colston's  and  Queen  Elizabeth's 
Hospitals  and  Whitson's  Red  Maids'  School,  having  an 
aggregate  income  of  about  .£16,000  per  annum ;  and  the 
establishment,  by  means  of  their  funds,  of  a  series  of 
first,  second,  and  third  grade  schools,  the  fees  in  which 
were  to  be  fixed  at  rates  which  working-class  parents,  for 
whose  benefit  the  endowments  were  exclusively  intended, 
could  not  afford  to  pay.  The  design  of  the  founders  of 
the  charities  to  afford  relief  to  poor  deserving  families 
was  condemned  by  Mr.  Fitch  as  the  root  of  manifold 
mischiefs  and  abuses  that  it  was  indispensable  to  cut 
away.  The  children  of  working  men,  he  contended, 
could  obtain  primary  education  for  twopence  or  three- 
pence per  head  weekly — though  the  elementary  schools 


then  in  existence  were  notoriously  inadequate  to  provide 
for  two-thirds  of  the  youthful  population — and  the  charity 
endowments  would  be  much  more  beneficially  spent  in 
"  creating  a  ladder  to  the  Universities."  With  this  aim, 
Colston's  Hospital  was  to  be  degraded  to  the  third  class, 
and  to  be  reserved  for  300  boarders,  admissible  from  all 
parts  of  the  kingdom,  and  paying  from  18  to  25  guineas 
each  yearly  for  their  instruction  and  maintenance.  Out 
of  the  funds  set  free  by  this  and  similar  changes  in  the 
other  endowed  schools,  a  Queen's  School  was  to  be 
established  for  girls  of  the  wealthier  classes,  free  scholar- 
ships were  to  be  created  for  open  competition  throughout 
the  country,  and  a  few  cheap  schools  were  to  be  opened. 

The  proposals  respecting  the  Hospital  led  to  pro- 
longed negotiations  between  the  Society  and  the  Endowed 
Schools  Commissioners,  in  the  course  of  which  many  of 
Mr.  Fitch's  most  unpopular  suggestions  were  abandoned. 
In  March,  1872,  the  Society  drew  up  an  alternative 
scheme,  under  which  it  was  proposed  to  reduce  the 
Colston  boys  to  the  original  number  of  one  hundred,  and 
to  abolish  the  old  system  of  nomination,  but  reserving 
the  right  to  present  a  limited  number  of  orphan  children 
for  free  education.  The  Society  further  desired  to  incor- 
porate with  the  Hospital  the  Bristol  Trade  School,  then 
doing  highly  useful  work  in  technical  instruction,  but 
crippled  by  inadequate  funds,  and  offered,  if  this  proposal 
were  carried  out,  to  endow  the  united  institutions  with 
.£10,000 ;  or,  if  the  plan  were  disapproved,  to  take  charge 
of  the  Trade  School,  and  to  develop  it  on  its  existing 
lines  to  the  utmost  of  their  power. 

Much  correspondence  and  some  personal  conferences 
with  the  Commissioners  took  place  in  that  and  the  two 
following  years,  in  which  the  scheme,  as  originally 
formulated  in  London,  underwent  various  modifications ; 


and  it  was  not  until  February,  1875,  that  the  new  system 
of  government  received  its  formal  confirmation  by  the 
Queen  in  Council.  Under  the  scheme  finally  adopted, 
the  arrangements  ordained  by  Mr.  Colston's  Settlements 
were  almost  totally  abrogated.  The  Society  were 
retained  simply  as  trustees  and  managers  of  the  endowed 
estates.  A  highly  composite  body,  consisting  of  the 
Bishop  of  the  diocese  and  the  Rector  of  Stapleton  for 
the  time  being,  eleven  persons  nominated  by  the  Society, 
four  by  the  justices  of  Gloucestershire  and  Somerset, 
three  by  the  Bristol  School  Board,  and  three  appointed 
by  co-optation,  were  constituted  Governors  of  the 
Hospital.  The  Society  and  the  Colston  Nominees  were 
deprived  of  their  patronage ;  and  the  boys  receiving  free 
education  were  thereafter  to  be  selected  by  order  of 
merit  —  eighty  from  the  elementary  schools  of  Bristol, 
and  twenty  from  those  of  the  counties  of  Gloucester, 
Wilts,  and  Somerset.  Besides  the  foundation  pupils, 
the  Governors  were  empowered  to  admit  other  youths 
to  the  benefits  of  the  Hospital  on  payment  of  about  £30 
each  per  annum.  Exhibitions  to  the  value  of  £100  a 
year  were  to  be  created  for  enabling  lads  of  superior 
merit  to  complete  their  education  at  a  higher  grade 
school.  And,  as  a  concession  to  the  founder's  emphatic 
and  reiterated  declarations  as  to  the  main  object  of  his 
munificence,  all  the  youths  were  to  be  instructed  in  the 
doctrines  of  the  Church  of  England.  The  scheme 
further  imposed  on  the  governing  body  the  charge  of 
managing  and  subsidising  the  Bristol  Trade  School 
(or  Trade  and  Mining  School,  as  it  was  often  more 
fully  called),  and  of  establishing  and  supporting  a  new 
Colston  School  for  Girls. 

As    the    Hospital   was    thus    disconnected    from   the 
Society,  its  subsequent  history  is  outside  the  limits  of 


this  work.     It  will  suffice  to  say  that  the  new  governing 
body  entered  upon  its  duties  in  March,  1875,  and  that 
its  Finance  Committee  reported   in  the  following  June 
that  the  Merchants'  Society  had  contributed  £10,000  to 
the  funds  of  the  Trust,  by  releasing  the  Hospital  from  the 
debt  then  due  to  the  Hall.      The  expectations  of   the 
Commissioners  in  regard   to  the  prospective  income  of 
the  endowed  estates  soon  proved  to  be  hopelessly  at  fault. 
The  scheme  had   hardly  been  sealed  when  agricultural 
depression  set  in,  which  became  more  extreme  in  suc- 
ceeding years,  resulting  in  the  ruin  of  many  farmers,  and 
a  great  fall  in  rents.     The  Hospital  income  was  thereby 
reduced  so  seriously  in  extent   that  for  some  time  the 
Trust   could   not   adequately   support   even   two   of   the 
burdens  laid  upon  it,  and  there  was  no  prospect  that  it 
could  ever  bear  the  third.     The  Society  then  came  to  the 
rescue  in  a  manner  which  will    be  more  fully  explained 
in  the  following  chapter.     Being  relieved  of  the  Trade 
School,  the  Governors  of  the  Hospital  were  enabled,  in 
1887,  to  purchase,  for  £2,700,  a  site  in  Cheltenham  Road 
for  the  contemplated  Colston  Girls'  School,  and  subse- 
quently erected  and  equipped  a  building  accommodating 
300  pupils  at  an  outlay  of  about  £10,000.    The  institution 
was  opened  in  January,  1891. 



BEFORE  proceeding  with  the  history  of  the  Merchant 
Venturers'  College,  it  is  necessary  to  give  some  account 
of  a  modest  but  remarkable  institution  of  which  it  is 
the  development.  Early  in  the  nineteenth  century, 
when  the  provision  for  the  education  of  the  children 
of  the  working  classes  was  extremely  limited  and 
defective,  several  leading  members  of  the  Church  of 
England  in  Bristol  resolved  on  establishing  a  Diocesan 
School  of  an  improved  character;  and  a  building  in 
Nelson  Street,  erected  for  the  purpose,  was  opened  in 
1821.  Thirty  years  later,  when  efficient  National  Schools 
had  arisen  in  nearly  every  parish  through  the  assistance 
of  the  State,  the  need  for  a  separate  Diocesan  School 
had  passed  away.  Its  trustees  accordingly  decided  to 
close  it  in  1852 ;  and  as  the  building,  togefher  with 
certain  endowments,  remained  at  their  disposal,  they 
asked  the  advice  of  the  late  Canon  Moseley,  the  ablest 
educational  authority  in  the  city,  as  to  the  best  appli- 
cation of  their  resources.  The  Great  Exhibition  of 
1851  having  made  it  clear  that,  in  their  knowledge  of 
the  scientific  principles  upon  which  trades  and  manu- 
factures are  based,  English  workmen  were,  for  the  most 
part,  behind  their  brethren  on  the  Continent,  Canon 
Moseley  conceived  the  idea  of  remedying  this  defect, 
so  far  as  Bristol  was  concerned ;  and  after  carefully 
considering  the  requirements  of  the  city,  he  submitted 
to  the  trustees  the  scheme  of  a  School  of  Applied 
Science,  similar  to  institutions  of  the  same  kind  then 



highly  successful  in  Germany  and  other  countries,  but 
then  unknown  in  England,  where  youths  of  limited 
means  could  be  provided  with  suitable  training  for  an 
industrial  career.  The  trustees,  after  some  deliberation, 
approved  of  this  proposal.  Dr.  (afterwards  Lord) 
Playfair  attended  a  public  meeting  convened  to  promote 
the  project,  and  congratulated  the  people  of  Bristol  on 
being  the  first  in  this  country  to  contemplate  the 
establishment  of  so  valuable  an  institution.  The  School, 
under  its  new  title  of  the  Trade  School,  and  with  a 
transformed  curriculum,  was  opened  on  March  26th, 
1856,  by  Earl  Granville,  President  of  the  Council,  who 
also  presided  at  a  meeting  in  Merchants'  Hall,  and 
expressed  the  deep  interest  felt  by  the  Government  in 
the  new  enterprise.  The  organisation,  which  has  been 
kept  essentially  intact  to  the  present  day  in  the  School's 
more  developed  form,  was  briefly  as  follows  : — 

I.    A  Primary,  or  Preparatory,  Department,  from  which 
boys,  when  they  were  thoroughly  grounded,  could 
pass  into  one  side  or  the  other  of: 
II.    A  Secondary  Department,  dealing — 

(a)  With  Commercial  subjects,  and 

(b)  With  Mathematics  and  Applied  Science. 

III.  Day  Classes  for  Adults  in  Chemistry,  Mining,  and 


IV.  Evening  Classes  of  various  kinds — in  Latin,  Modern 

Languages,  Bookkeeping  and  other  Commercial 
subjects,  Drawing,  Mathematics,  and  numerous 
branches  of  Science. 

The  liberal  subscriptions  of  the  promoters  and  their 
friends — amongst  whom  were  the  Merchants'  Society — 
made  it  possible  to  fix  the  fees  so  low  as  practically  to 
exclude  no  one  who  was  likely  to  profit  by  the  instruction 



offered ;  and  this  practice  of  imposing  low  rates  of  charge 
is  still  maintained. 

The  School  was  successful  from  the  outset ;  and  ten 
years  after  its  foundation,  the  Duke  of  Buckingham  and 
Chandos,  President  of  the  Council,  who  distributed  its 
prizes  in  1867,  was  able  to  say,  in  a  report  presented 
to  the  Queen  in  Council:  "That  the  Trade  School  of 
Bristol  should,  with  its  120  pupils,  carry  off  four  out 
of  the  eight  gold  medals  awarded  [by  the  State],  besides 
two  silver  and  four  bronze  medals,  and  ninety- seven 
prizes,  redounds  greatly  to  its  credit,  and  places  it 
decidedly  at  the  head  of  the  list  of  Science  Schools." 

The  examinations  in  which  these  successes  were 
gained  were  those  established  in  1863  by  the  Department 
of  Science  and  Art  (now  merged  in  the  Board  of  Educa- 
tion), and  from  that  time  until  to-day  the  Government 
records  tell  a  story  of  the  Institution  not  unworthy  of  its 
brilliant  beginning. 

The  Society's  first  direct  connection  with  the  Trade 
School  occurred  in  1863.  The  working  of  the  Navigation 
School  in  King  Street,  maintained  by  the  Hall,  having 
been  reported  as  unsatisfactory,  an  agreement  was  made 
with  the  governors  of  the  Trade  School,  under  which  the 
Society  contributed  £50  yearly  towards  the  salary  of  an 
efficient  teacher  of  navigation,  on  condition  that  ten 
boys  nominated  by  the  Master  and  Wardens  should  be 
instructed  gratis,  and  that  an  evening  class  should  be 
opened  for  sailor  boys  and  seamen.  A  special  room, 
called  the  Merchant  Venturers'  Marine  School,  was  to  be 
fitted  up  by  the  Society,  who  were  to  furnish  it  with 
instruments  and  charts,  and  contribute  £10  yearly  for 
fuel.  The  arrangement  was  terminated  two  years  after- 
wards, when  the  teachership  became  vacant,  but  was 
revived  later  on,  with  some  modifications. 


In  1877,  two  years  after  the  School  had  been  placed 
under  the  management  of  the  new  governing  body  of  the 
Colston  Trust,  as  has  been  narrated  in  the  previous 
chapter,  the  headmaster,  Mr.  Thomas  Coomber,  addressed 
a  letter  to  that  body,  pointing  out  that  the  building 
in  Nelson  Street  occupied  by  the  School  had  become 
overcrowded  and  totally  inadequate,  and  that,  if  the 
Institution  were  to  continue  its  successful  career,  a  heavy 
expenditure  on  enlarged  premises  and  on  other  essential 
needs  was  imperatively  required.  The  Governors  took 
up  the  subject  warmly,  and  investigated  in  detail  the 
necessities  of  the  School,  and  the  best  means  of  supplying 
them.  In  the  course  of  their  deliberations  they  were 
offered  by  the  Municipal  Charity  Trustees,  for  ^8,000,  the 
premises  in  Unity  Street  then  recently  abandoned  by  the 
Grammar  School  (and  now  the  site  of  the  Merchants' 
College).  The  building,  however,  was  considered  unsuit- 
able, and  a  surveyor  was  instructed  to  report  on  the 
advisability  of  acquiring  a  plot  of  ground  on  St.  Michael's 
Hill,  and  of  erecting  there  not  only  a  Trade  School  but 
the  proposed  Colston's  School  for  girls. 

The  rising  hopes  of  those  interested  in  education 
were  checked  in  October,  1879,  when  the  Governors 
(the  Colston  Trust),  after  an  unsuccessful  attempt  to 
obtain  help  from  the  Livery  Companies  of  London, 
felt  it  their  duty  to  postpone  any  further  action  in 
the  matter  "  on  account  of  the  depression  of  landed 
property,  and  the  probable  diminution  of  the  income 
now  derived  from  the  Somersetshire  estates." 

Meanwhile  the  Merchants'  Society,  impressed  with 
the  paramount  need  for  the  extension  of  scientific  and 
technical  instruction  in  Bristol,  and  also  with  the 
insufficient  provision  for  the  education  of  girls,  had 
been  meditating  a  plan  which  would  help  to  supply 


both  of  those  requirements.  It  is  somewhat  remarkable 
that  the  minute  books  of  the  period  contain  no  infor- 
mation as  to  the  initial  steps  taken  in  those  directions. 
The  first  reference  to  the  subject  is  dated  April  3Oth, 
1880,  when  the  Master  informed  the  Standing  Committee 
that  his  offer  of  £5,500  for  the  site  of  the  old  Grammar 
School  had  been  accepted ;  but  nothing  is  said  as  to 
the  object  for  which  the  property  had  been  acquired. 
On  May  4th,  the  Hall,  after  confirming  the  Master's 
proceeding,  resolved  that  it  was  desirable  to  erect  on 
the  said  ground  a  new  school  and  other  buildings,  to 
be  called  the  Merchants'  Trade  School.  The  first 
hint  of  the  contemplated  design  was  communicated  to 
the  Governors  of  the  Colston  Trust  in  the  following 
July  by  their  Chairman,  Alderman  Proctor  Baker 
(Master,  1869,  and  now  Father  of  the  Society),  who 
announced  the  intentions  of  the  Hall,  and  expressed 
his  belief  that  the  building  about  to  be  erected  would 
probably  be  offered  to  the  Governors  at  a  nominal 
rent.  The  Governors  thereupon  expressed  their  grateful 
thanks  for  the  liberality  of  the  Society,  and  their 
readiness  to  accept  the  building  if  offered  to  them. 
From  other  circumstances  recorded  in  the  Hall  records, 
it  seems  certain  that  Alderman  Baker  had  himself 
suggested  the  policy  then  favoured  by  the  Society. 

An  invitation  to  architects  for  designs  was  issued  soon 
afterwards,  but  none  of  the  plans  sent  in  were  considered 
satisfactory.  In  April,  1881,  Mr.  E.  C.  Robins  was 
instructed  to  submit  a  new  design,  which  was  in  due 
course  approved;  and  in  March,  1882,  after  the  considera- 
tion of  a  number  of  tenders,  the  offer  of  Messrs.  Brock 
and  Bruce  to  construct  the  new  building  for  the  sum  of 
£28,698  was  accepted.  As  an  illustration  of  the  earnest 
thoughtfulness  with  which  the  Society  proceeded,  it  may 


be  stated  that  as  there  was  no  example  in  this  country  of 
the  Belgian  mode  of  ventilation,  recommended  by  the 
architect,  the  Hall  commissioned  the  master  and  second 
master  of  the  Trade  School  to  visit  Belgium  and  report 
their  opinion  of  the  system.  A  few  months  later,  further 
development  being  already  foreseen,  the  desirability  of 
making  provision  for  a  large  extension  of  the  institution 
by  securing  several  houses  in  College  Green  led  to 
negotiations  with  the  Corporation,  the  owners  of  the 
property.  In  the  result,  the  civic  Finance  Committee 
stated  that  they  would  recommend  the  sale  of  six  houses, 
adjacent  to  the  School  premises,  for  .£8,000 ;  but  as  the 
property  was  subject  to  leases  having  many  years  to  run, 
the  buying  up  of  which  would  have  amounted  to  a  large 
additional  sum,  the  Society  resolved  to  offer  ^6,500.  The 
corporate  authorities  then  intimated  their  willingness  to 
accept  ^7,000  for  five  of  the  houses,  but  the  Society, 
regarding  the  price  as  excessive,  refused  to  entertain  the 
proposal,  and  the  matter  came  to  an  end.  A  house 
fronting  the  School  in  Unity  Street  was  purchased  about 
the  same  time  for  £725,  and  was  ultimately  made  available 
for  some  of  the  technical  classes. 

The  intentions  of  the  Society  in  regard  to  the  School 
were  gradually  matured  during  the  rise  of  the  new  edifice  ; 
and  on  March  7th,  1885,  when  it  was  on  the  verge  of 
completion,  a  general  meeting  was  held  in  Merchants' 
Hall,  at  which  the  following  momentous  resolution  was 
adopted : — 

"  Whereas  it  appears  that  the  buildings  erected  for  the  use  of 
the  Trade  and  Mining  School  by  the  Society  are  now  approaching 
completion,  and  that  the  period  has  arrived  when  it  was  intended 
to  offer  the  use  of  these  buildings  to  the  Governors  of  the  Colston 
School  Trust  for  the  purposes  of  the  Trade  and  Mining  School, 
And  whereas  it  is  evident  from  the  accounts  of  the  Colston 
Trust  that,  chiefly  in  consequence  of  the  diminution  of  the  income 


receivable  from  the  endowment  and  its  further  prospective  decrease, 
a  sufficient  sum  for  carrying  on  the  Trade  and  Mining  School  in 
the  new  buildings  (still  less  for  its  development  and  increase)  is 
not  at  the  disposal  of  the  Governors,  And  whereas  it  would 
appear  that,  if  the  Governors  be  relieved  from  the  charge  of 
carrying  on  the  Trade  and  Mining  School,  they  may  stand  possessed 
of  a  sufficient  income  to  establish  and  carry  on  the  Day  School 
for  Girls  contemplated  by  the  scheme, 

"  Resolved  that,  in  order  to  promote  to  the  utmost  the  scientific 
and  technical  education  of  the  classes  resorting  to  the  Trade  and 
Mining  School,  the  Society  of  Merchant  Venturers  offer  to  take 
upon  themselves  the  entire  charge  of  that  School,  and  to  undertake 
the  control  and  management  thereof,  from  and  after  the  commence- 
ment of  the  Michaelmas  term  of  the  present  year,  and  that,  from 
the  period  of  taking  over  the  School,  the  whole  expense  of  carrying 
it  on  be  borne  by  the  Society,  and  that  an  assurance  be  given  to 
the  Governors  of  the  Colston  Schools  Trust  that  the  School  shall 
be  generally  conducted  on  similar  lines,  and  with  similar  objects 
to  those  of  the  existing  School,  and  that  it  is  the  intention  of  the 
Society  to  develop  all  branches  of  the  School  in  the  direction 
which  may  be  found  from  time  to  time  most  useful  for  the  promotion 
of  scientific  and  technological  teaching." 

At  a  meeting  of  the  Governors  on  March  igth,  the 
offer  conveyed  by  the  above  resolution  was  gratefully 
accepted ;  and  it  was  resolved  to  apply  to  the  Charity 
Commissioners  for  their  assent,  and,  if  their  approval 
were  given,  to  proceed  with  the  establishment  of  Colston's 
Girls'  School  without  delay.  In  the  following  month,  the 
Commissioners,  in  a  letter  to  the  Society,  expressed  their 
pleasure  at  being  informed  of  the  proposed  establishment 
of  the  Technical  School  in  the  new  building ;  but  before 
assenting  to  the  transfer  of  the  Trade  School  to  the 
Technical  School  they  thought  it  right  to  obtain  some 
formal  assurance  that  the  proposed  arrangement  would 
be  permanent — which  could  be  best  effected  either  by  a 
scheme  made  under  the  powers  of  the  Endowed  Schools' 
Act,  or  by  the  Society  assuring  the  property  to  charitable 
uses  under  a  trust  deed.  The  Standing  Committee 


thereupon  recommended  the  Hall  to  accept  the  second 
alternative ;  but  the  Society  were  advised  to  decline  to  be 
placed  under  the  control  of  the  Charity  Commissioners 
in  the  management  of  the  School.  The  Master  and 
some  other  members  soon  afterwards  proceeded  to 
London  to  lay  the  views  of  the  Society  before  Sir 
George  Young,  acting  on  behalf  of  the  Commissioners ; 
and  a  letter  conveying  the  decision  of  that  body  was 
forwarded  in  July.  Recognising  the  high  educational 
value  of  the  work  undertaken  by  the  Society,  and 
expressing  confidence  that  it  would  be  continued  in  the 
same  liberal  spirit,  the  Commissioners  stated  that  they 
could  not  regard  it  as  satisfactory  that  the  character  of 
a  permanent  institution  had  not  been  given  to  the  School 
in  the  usual  way.  In  view,  however,  of  the  Society's 
objections,  and  of  the  guarantee  afforded  by  the  costly 
buildings,  and  of  the  Society's  expressed  intentions,  the 
Board  had  consented  to  amend  the  Colston's  Schools' 
Scheme,  so  as  to  relieve  that  Trust  of  the  burden  of  the 
Trade  School,  and  to  put  an  end  to  that  School.  The 
Society's  willingness  to  convey  the  new  buildings  provided 
they  were  exempt  from  the  Board's  control  was  accepted 
as  further  evidence  of  the  Society's  good  faith,  but  might 
be  dispensed  with  under  the  circumstances. 

All  difficulties  having  been  thus  disposed  of,  the 
masters  and  pupils  of  the  Trade  School  migrated  in 
September,  1885,  from  the  contracted  and  dingy  premises 
in  Nelson  Street  to  the  spacious  and  convenient  buildings 
prepared  for  them  by  the  Society  in  Unity  Street ; 
adopting  at  the  same  time  the  name  of  their  benefactors, 
and  calling  themselves  thenceforth  the  "  Merchant 
Venturers'  School."  No  other  change  was  made.  The 
School  had  merely  moved  house  and  varied  its  title ; 
it  retained  its  identity  and  original  organisation ;  and 


in  its  new  quarters,  and  with  ampler  means,  it  resumed 
its  arrested  growth.  A  committee  consisting  of  the 
Master,  Wardens,  and  eight  members  of  the  Society 
(to  be  thenceforth  elected  annually  on  Charter  Day) 
was  appointed  for  the  management  of  the  Institution. 
In  the  first  winter  session  four  new  technological 
courses,  including  joinery,  brickwork,  masonry,  and 
plumbing  were  introduced,  lecturers  being  appointed 
for  each  course ;  and  teachers  of  modelling,  designing, 
and  machine  drawing  were  added  to  the  staff  and 
equipped  with  apparatus.  The  increased  popularity  of 
the  School  from  the  outset  was  strongly  marked,  the 
pupils  attending  the  first  evening  classes  numbering 
415  against  212  at  the  last  session  in  Nelson  Street; 
whilst  within  six  months  of  the  opening  of  the  building 
the  inrush  of  pupils  in  the  primary  and  secondary 
departments  became  so  great  that  it  was  found  necessary 
to  provide  an  additional  class-room.  Several  more 
technical  teachers  were  introduced  soon  afterwards, 
large  sums  being  voted  for  the  purchase  of  apparatus ; 
and  the  technological  classes  for  various  local  trades 
were  placed  in  connection  with  the  City  and  Guilds 
of  London  Institute.  About  the  same  time,  the 
Governors  of  the  Colston  Trust  were  permitted  by  the 
Charity  Commissioners  to  establish — as  soon  as  they  had 
any  surplus  funds  available — four  exhibitions  of  ^25  each, 
two  to  be  awarded  annually,  together  with  a  Moseley 
Scholarship  of  £20  a  year  for  an  exhibitioner  of  special 
distinction.  Several  handsome  prizes  were  also  offered 
by  private  firms  in  Bristol ;  and  the  Society  voted  ^25  a 
year  for  three  years  to  a  distinguished  pupil  of  the  Trade 
School,  who  had  gained  a  scholarship  at  Oxford.  The 
Hall's  contribution  towards  the  maintenance  of  its  School 
was  at  that  period  about  £1,700  per  annum. 



The  earliest  of  the  annual  exhibitions  of  work  done 
in  the  Technical  Classes  was  held  in  the  Examination 
Hall  of  the  building  in  1887,  and  attracted  upwards  of 
6,000  visitors.  In  the  same  year  724  students  offered 
themselves  at  the  Science  and  Art  examinations. 

The  defective  education  obtained  in  the  Elementary 
Schools  of  the  city  through  the  neglectful  conduct  of 
many  parents  was  reported  in  1888  to  be  acting  pre- 
judicially on  the  pupils  received  from  them.  It  was 
stated  that,  to  enable  boys  to  pass  through  the  Science 
courses  at  the  age  of  16,  they  ought  to  be  sufficiently 
proficient  to  enter  the  secondary  department  in  about  the 
twelfth  year  of  their  age,  whereas  about  three-fourths  of 
the  youths  in  the  primary  classes  were  still  lingering  there 
although  their  ages  were  from  12  to  over  15,  and 
many  would  probably  leave  before  reaching  the  higher 
department  at  all.  It  was  resolved  that  candidates  for 
admission  should  undergo  a  preliminary  examination,  and 
that  a  preference  should  be  given  to  boys  whose  parents 
undertook  to  retain  them  at  school  until  the  age  of  16. 
A  new  scheme  of  studies  was  adopted,  providing 
a  higher  standard  of  education  without  any  increase  of 
fees,  and  the  School  Board  were  informed  that  pupils  of 
the  sixth  standard  in  their  schools  would  be  given 
teaching  on  Saturdays  in  science  and  handicrafts  for 
trivial  fees.  A  number  of  ladies  offered  to  become 
responsible  for  the  stipend  of  a  teacher  in  dressmaking 
to  young  women,  if  a  class  for  that  work  were  established, 
and  a  room  was  accordingly  provided,  resulting  in  a  great 
influx  of  pupils.  The  boot  and  shoe  manufacturers  of 
the  city  next  undertook  to  provide  apparatus  for  classes 
in  those  handicrafts  and  to  subscribe  ^50  towards  the 
expenses  if  the  Society  would  contribute  an  equal  sum, 
and  this  having  been  assented  to,  the  firms  offered  £10 


additional  for  prizes  to  the  numerous  youths  who 
immediately  flowed  in.  The  opening  of  navigation, 
photography,  and  ambulance  classes  was  another  feature 
of  the  year. 

In  the  spring  of  1889  it  was  announced  that  the 
number  of  entries  to  the  evening  classes,  then  concluded, 
had  been  1031,  or  nearly  double  the  average  of  the  three 
preceding  years.  A  few  months  later,  Mr.  Thomas 
Coomber,  who  had  been  thirty-three  years  headmaster 
of  the  School,  and  who  was,  in  a  sense,  the  father  of 
technical  instruction  in  Bristol,  tendered  his  resigna- 
tion, and  on  his  retirement  in  July,  1890,  the  Society 
voted  him  a  pension  of  ^300  per  annum.  Mr.  Julius 
Wertheimer,  B.Sc.,  who  had  held  a  post  in  the  Leeds 
School  of  Science,  was  selected,  out  of  fifty-six  candi- 
dates, as  Mr.  Coomber's  successor.  The  new  headmaster 
brought  with  him  comparative  youth,  an  intimate 
acquaintance  with  the  most  recent  phases  and  the  most 
effective  methods  of  scientific  and  technological  teaching, 
a  stock  of  fresh  ideas,  and  an  inexhaustible  fund  of  energy. 
He  was  felt  to  be  precisely  the  man  wanted  to  further 
the  Society's  policy  in  developing  all  branches  of  their 
School,  and  the  first  step  after  his  arrival  was  to  carry 
out  the  recommendation  of  a  recent  examiner  of  the 
pupils — an  Inspector  of  the  Department  of  Science  and 
Art — who  had  advised  that  a  "  drastic  rearrangement  as 
regarded  classes  and  work  was  urgently  needed."  This 
was  effected  by  considerable  internal  changes,  which  it 
would  be  tedious  to  enumerate,  and  by  the  help  of 
several  large  votes  granted  by  the  Society  for  the  purchase 
of  additional  apparatus. 

In  January,  1891,  there  came  into  being  the  first 
Technical  Instruction  Committee  of  the  Corporation, 
appointed  to  administer  the  moneys  received  from  the 


Treasury  under  the  Local  Taxation  (Customs  and 
Excise)  Act  of  1890.  The  sum  that  became  yearly 
available  under  the  statute  for  the  promotion  of  educa- 
tion in  the  city  was  about  ^5,700,  and  the  best  method 
of  dealing  with  so  important  a  fund  was  naturally  a 
subject  of  prolonged  deliberation.  Two  courses  were 
obviously  open  to  the  new  Committee.  They  might 
either  devote  the  bulk  of  their  resources  to  the  creation 
of  one  great  Technical  Institute  after  the  American  or 
the  Continental  model ;  or  they  might  distribute  their 
favours  widely  to  existing  institutions.  The  former 
course,  it  was  held  by  many  experts,  would  produce  by 
far  the  more  valuable  results  in  the  shape  of  highly 
educated  "captains  of  industry,"  inventors,  and  dis- 
coverers ;  and  if  the  Committee  had  adopted  the  views 
of  those  advisers,  their  co-operation  with  the  Society 
might  possibly  have  endowed  Bristol  with  a  first-rate 
Technical  Institute,  comparable  with  many  that  have 
been  founded  abroad,  and  adequate  to  meet  the  needs 
of  the  whole  of  the  West  of  England. 

The  Technical  Instruction  Committee,  however,  were 
uncertain  how  long  the  income  at  their  disposal  would 
be  available  for  the  purposes  of  technical  education. 
As  the  Local  Taxation  Act  of  1890  was  permissive  only, 
and  the  City  Council  had  the  power  to  devote  the 
money  received  under  the  provisions  of  the  Act  to  the 
alleviation  of  the  rates,  the  Committee  had  no  certainty 
how  long  they  would  have  the  disposal  of  the  estimated 
income  for  educational  purposes ;  and  there  was  at  that 
time  a  doubt  whether  or  not  the  Act  might  be  repealed. 
Moreover,  they  probably  believed  it  impossible  to  devise 
a  scheme  for  providing  a  Technical  Institution  on  a 
large  scale  that  could  be  carried  through  the  City 
Council,  as  there  was  great  jealously  existing  lest  the 


benefits  of  the  money  might  be  absorbed  by  the  higher 
classes  rather  than  by  the  working  population.  Even 
now,  it  may  be  questioned  whether  public  opinion  is 
ripe  for  such  a  measure.  And  the  plan  adopted,  of 
giving  largely  in  scholarships  for  the  benefit  of  all  classes, 
was  necessary  to  make  the  scheme  palatable,  and  in  a 
large  measure  useful. 

It  is  only  fair  to  the  corporate  Committee  to  add  that 
the  Merchants'  Society  had  not  then  realised  that  their 
own  resources  were  unequal  to  the  task  they  had  under- 
taken. On  January  3Oth,  1891,  Alderman  Proctor  Baker 
waited  upon  the  Standing  Committee,  to  state  that  the 
Technical  Instruction  Committee  were  desirous  of 
receiving  suggestions  as  to  the  allotment  of  the  funds 
about  to  come  into  their  hands,  adding  that  it  might  be 
advisable  to  consider  whether  any  sum  should  be  applied 
for  towards  the  extension  or  maintenance  of  the  Merchant 
Venturers'  School.  Whereupon  the  Standing  Committee 
resolved  that  "  inasmuch  as  the  Society  is  prepared  to 
meet  all  the  requirements  of  the  School,  it  is  not  desirable 
to  apply  for  a  money  grant ;  but  that  the  Corporation  be 
asked  to  found  scholarships  tenable  at  the  School."  A 
possible  opportunity  of  definitely  settling  the  provision 
for  technical  instruction  in  the  city  on  a  large  scale  thus 
unfortunately  slipped  away.  Acceding  to  the  suggestion 
of  the  Standing  Committee,  the  Corporation,  in  the 
following.  July,  voted  £1,350  per  annum  for  founding 
junior  scholarships,  £960  for  senior  scholarships,  £200  for 
evening  class  scholarships,  tenable  at  any  approved 
institution,  and  £400  for  the  extension  of  evening  classes 
and  instruction  in  various  trades.  The  remainder  of  the 
fund  was  allotted  to  University  College,  to  the  Grammar 
School,  and  to  the  better  provision  of  art  teaching  and 
promoting  the  education  of  girls.  A  cookery  school  was 


also  established.  In  the  following  December  it  was 
announced  that  the  Technical  Committee  had  offered 
a  capitation  grant  of  155.  to  the  technical  classes  in 
Bristol,  including,  of  course,  those  of  the  Merchants' 
School,  provided  the  fee  for  such  classes  did  not  exceed 
55.  per  session.  The  terms  were  at  once  accepted  (the 
Society  afterwards  reduced  the  fee  to  half-a- crown).  The 
ever-increasing  popularity  of  the  School  was  shown  by 
the  fact  that  out  of  the  104  scholarships  created  by  the 
Corporation,  93  were  then  held  in  the  School,  which  also 
had  19  out  of  the  29  scholarships  founded  by  the  two 
adjoining  counties.  In  1892,  owing  to  a  great  increase 
of  pupils  in  the  higher  departments,  three  additional 
masters  were  appointed,  and  the  elementary  teachers  of 
the  city  and  district  were  admitted  to  the  evening  art 
classes  free  of  charge.  A  satisfactory  report  was  made 
by  Professor  Garnett  and  Sir  Philip  Magnus,  who  had 
examined  the  technical  classes  on  behalf  of  the  City 
and  Guilds  of  London  Institute  for  the  advancement 
of  Technical  Education,  who  added  that  the  School 
buildings  were  perhaps  second  to  none  of  the  kind  in 
the  country,  and  expressed  high  approval  of  the  capacity 
and  zeal  of  the  teachers. 

In  July,  1893,  a  committee  that  had  been  appointed 
to  consider  the  best  means  of  securing  additional  school 
accommodation  reported  that  since  the  advent  of  Mr. 
Wertheimer  the  roll  of  scholars  had  rapidly  expanded, 
notwithstanding  the  greater  severity  of  the  entrance 
examination,  that  the  School  was  consequently  over- 
crowded, that  all  the  rooms  designed  for  teaching  were 
fully  occupied,  and  that  even  the  kitchen  and  other 
departments  had  been  converted  into  class-rooms.  When 
the  School  was  founded,  added  the  committee,  it  stood 
in  the  very  first  rank  of  Technical  Institutions ;  but 


the  establishment  of  such  schools  had  since  gone  on 
so  rapidly,  and  the  standard  of  education  in  them  had 
become  so  high,  that  unless  the  Society's  School  should 
be  further  developed  it  would  not  be  able  to  keep  its 
place.  It  was  therefore  recommended  that,  to  meet 
immediate  requirements,  a  considerable  extension  of  the 
building  and  its  equipment  should  be  undertaken  at  an 
estimated  cost  of  about  £i 8,000,  involving,  of  course,  a 
large  additional  yearly  outlay. 

This  report  effectually  opened  the  eyes  of  the  Society 
as  to  the  responsibilities  they  had  undertaken  for  the 
benefit  of  the  city  and  surrounding  districts.  Since 
the  reorganisation  of  the  Colston  Trust,  the  Hall  had 
expended  large  sums*  for  educational  purposes,  and  the 
prospective  demands  indicated  by  the  above  report, 
when  contrasted  with  the  limited  resources  at  disposal, 
naturally  excited  some  dismay.  Little  time  was  lost, 
however,  in  seeking  to  obtain  a  site  near  the  School 
suitable  for  its  enlargement.  Owing  to  the  augmented 
value  of  the  property  in  College  Green,  an  extension 
in  that  direction  was  found  impracticable.  Attempts 
were  next  made  to  acquire  a  number  of  houses  in  Unity 
Street,  and  afterwards  to  secure  two  several  blocks  of 
property  in  Orchard  Street ;  but  these  efforts  were  all 
unsuccessful.  At  length  a  conditional  contract  was 
signed  for  the  purchase  from  the  Municipal  Charity 
Trustees  of  a  large  warehouse  in  Denmark  Street,  and 
plans  of  proposed  buildings  there  were  approved  by 
the  vendors ;  when,  just  as  success  seemed  achieved, 
it  was  found  that  the  consent  of  the  Charity  Commis- 
sioners to  the  sale  would  be  withheld,  and  all  that  the 
Society  could  give  to  the  School  in  the  way  of  additional 

*  The  amount  expended  up  to  the  present  time  (1903)  on  the  College,  including 
the  yearly  grants  for  its  maintenance,  reaches  nearly  £80,000. 


space  was  the  house  in  Unity  Street  which  fortunately 
belonged  to  them  already. 

In  1894  the  style  "Technical  College"  was  assumed 
in  place  of  that  of  "School,"  partly  in  order  to  avoid 
applying  to  the  whole  the  term  applied  to  some  of 
its  component  parts — the  Boys'  School,  the  School  of 
Science,  the  School  of  Art,  &c., — but  chiefly  in  order 
that  the  name  might  convey  to  the  general  public 
outside  Bristol  an  accurate  idea  of  the  nature  and 
extent  of  the  Institution,  and  of  the  education  given 
in  it.  Mr.  Wertheimer  at  the  same  time  assumed  the 
title  of  Principal,  and  several  distinguished  past  students 
were  elected  Associates  of  the  College,  a  much-prized 
honour  which  continues  to  be  conferred.  The  change 
in  the  name  of  the  Institution  had  a  marked  effect  in 
heightening  and  extending  its  reputation. 

Unhappily,  its  subsequent  development  has  been 
checked  by  an  inability  to  meet  the  ever  -  growing 
demands  for  admission  to  its  advantages.  Since  1895 
no  further  extension  has  been  possible,  and  though 
every  available  corner  of  the  building  has  been  turned 
to  account  for  educational  uses,  the  inconvenience 
arising  from  crowded  quarters  recalls  that  which  had 
previously  arisen  in  the  old  School  in  Nelson  Street. 
But  although  building  operations  have  been  suspended, 
the  Society  have  voted  many  large  grants  for  improved 
equipment  in  apparatus,  machinery,  models,  &c.  In 
order  to  retain  desirable  students  who  from  poverty 
could  not  complete  their  studies  without  assistance, 
the  Principal  has  been  empowered  to  award  many 
such  youths  free  scholarships  tenable  for  three  years. 
The  popular  lectures  established  by  Mr.  Wertheimer 
soon  after  his  arrival  have  become  a  recognised  institu- 
tion of  the  city.  And  the  Society  has  contributed 


largely  to  clubs  and  societies  formed  for  the  recreation, 
amusement,  and  social  intercourse  of  the  students,  past 
and  present. 

The  continuous  growth  of  the  College  may  be  seen 
from  the  following  figures,  which  give  the  total  numbers 
under  instruction  at  the  dates  stated  :  — 

In  1884,  just  before  the  transfer  of  the  School, 

the  Day  and  Evening  students  numbered  521 

In  1890  the  number  was        ............  i»43o 

In  1895      „          „          „                      ........  1,683 

In  1900      „          „          ,,                                  ....  2,021 

In  1901      „          „          „          ....                     ....  2,145 

In  1902,  the  last  completed  year       ....         ....  2,215 

An  analysis  of  the  last  figures  show  that  they  were 
composed  of  the  following  constituents  :  — 

Students   in  the  Boys'  School,  including  the 

School  of  Science     ....         ....         ....         ....        419 

Adult  students'  Day  classes     ............        279 

Adult  students'  Evening  classes          ........ 


In  1887  the  total  Government  and  local  grants  earned 
by  the  College  amounted  to  £550;  in  1900  the  aggregate 
reached  ^3,823;  and  in  1901  .£4,013:  of  the  latter 
sum  .£2,442  was  received  from  the  Government,  and 
£1,571  from  local  sources. 

Inasmuch  as  want  of  room  forbids  any  considerable 
addition  to  the  number  of  pupils,  the  present  policy 
of  the  Society  is  to  make  a  selection,  to  some  extent, 
amongst  its  Day  students  ;  discontinuing  by  degrees 
the  preparatory  forms  (for  which  there  is  now  less  need 
than  there  was  when  the  Institution  was  founded),  and 
devoting  the  space  thus  set  free  to  the  organised  School 


of  Science  and  the  Senior  Day  classes,  by  far  the  most 
valuable  departments  of  the  College. 

In  November,  1897,  the  Society,  in  reconsidering 
the  question  of  College  Extension,  recognised  its  want 
of  foresight  when  the  Technical  Instruction  Committee 
came  into  existence  in  1891,  and  appointed  a  committee 
to  consider  the  desirability  of  applying  for  direct  aid 
from  that  body,  and  of  coming  to  an  arrangement  with 
other  educational  institutions  to  prevent  the  unnecessary 
overlapping  of  classes  doing  precisely  similar  work.  A 
formal  request  for  co-operation  having  been  made  to 
the  corporate  committee,  a  suggestion  was  received  in 
reply  that  a  series  of  conferences  should  take  place, 
with  a  view  "  to  avoid  the  present  waste  of  teaching 
power  and  of  expenditure."  Protracted  negotiations 
ensued  between  the  Society,  the  Technical  Instruction 
Committee,  the  governors  of  University  College,  the 
School  Board,  and  the  School  of  Art.  With  regard 
to  the  two  last-named  bodies,  an  arrangement  for 
co-ordinating  Evening  classes  was  concluded  in  March, 

The  scheme  agreed  upon  reserved  to  the  School 
Board  all  the  subjects  specified  in  the  Government 
Code  for  Evening  schools,  but  such  subjects  were  not 
to  be  taught  beyond  the  Code  standards.  To  the 
Technical  College  was  reserved  all  Science  and  Techno- 
logical classes  and  all  advanced  Commercial  classes. 
And  to  the  School  of  Art,  all  classes  in  Art.  The 
School  Board  and  the  Principal  of  the  College  were 
to  frame  elementary  courses  in  Science  on  lines  calculated 
to  facilitate  advanced  progress,  and  similar  arrangements 
were  to  be  made  between  the  School  Board  and  the 
School  of  Art.  The  Board  was  to  open  no  classes  in 
Science  provided  that  the  Society  opened  elementary 



Science  classes  in  certain  Board  Schools ;  and  a  like 
understanding  was  come  to  between  the  Board  and 
School  of  Art.  Instruction  in  stages  higher  than  the 
elementary  was  to  be  given,  as  regarded  Science,  at  the 
College,  and  as  regarded  Art  at  the  School  of  Art, 
provided  that  branch  classes  of  each  kind  were  opened 
in  outlying  districts  by  the  Society  and  the  Art  School. 
The  Society  were  to  discontinue  their  Evening  Art 
classes,  to  close  their  elementary  and  junior  Com- 
mercial classes  gradually,  and  to  admit  no  student  to 
Evening  classes  under  the  age  of  sixteen.  The  School  of 
Art  was  to  discontinue  its  Science  classes ;  and  the  School 
Board  was  to  close  its  advanced  Commercial  classes, 
all  of  which  were  to  be  held  at  the  College  only. 

In  consequence  of  this  reorganisation  the  Technical 
Instruction  Committee  voted  the  Society  £10  in  respect 
of  each  branch  class  they  opened  in  the  Board  Schools 
up  to  a  limit  of  £300. 

Numerous  negotiations  took  place  between  the 
Society  and  the  Governors  of  University  College  with 
the  object  of  securing  an  alliance  between  the  two 
Institutions,  based  on  a  scheme  for  delimiting  the 
sphere  of  work  to  be  pursued  in  each.  The  Society 
proposed  that  University  College  should  have  the  sole 
supervision  of  the  higher  standard  of  non-Technical  subjects 
—  Philosophy,  Languages,  Literature,  Law,  Medicine, 
Music,  Pure  Science,  Divinity,  and  kindred  branches  of 
knowledge, — that  Mathematics  and  Pure  Natural  Science 
should  be  common  to  both  colleges,  and  that  Applied 
Science,  Applied  Art,  and  Commerce  should  be  left 
exclusively  to  the  Technical  College.  The  correspond- 
ence on  the  subject  promised  at  one  time  to  have  a 
satisfactory  issue ;  but  eventually  the  authorities  of 
University  College,  after  going  so  far  as  to  approve 


a  federation  under  the  title  of  "  The  West  of  England 
University  and  Technical  College,"  insisted  on  retaining 
their  Engineering  classes.  This  attitude  brought  the 
negotiations  to  an  end,  the  Society  being  convinced 
that  Bristol  could  not  support  more  than  one  first-class 
School  of  Engineering,  and  that  no  scheme  of  co- 
ordination would  be  worthy  of  adoption  which  did  not 
fuse  together  the  two  existing  Schools.  The  failure  of 
the  negotiations  was  reported  to  the  Hall  by  the  College 
Committee,  who  recommended  that  direct  aid  should 
be  sought  from  the  Technical  Instruction  Committee, 
with  an  invitation  to  that  body  to  accept  a  share  of 
the  government  of  the  College  in  a  proportion  corre- 
sponding to  the  pecuniary  assistance  contributed.  Their 
advice  having  been  approved,  a  letter  was  addressed 
to  the  Technical  Committee  to  the  above  effect,  pointing 
out  that  the  College  was  a  Technical  Institution  more 
than  half  made ;  that  the  Society,  through  want  of 
means,  were  unable  to  complete  the  making  of  it ;  that 
a  comparatively  small  further  outlay  would  suffice  for 
its  completion ;  and  that  such  outlay  would  not  only 
produce  its  own  educational  return,  but  would  render 
more  productive  the  considerable  capital  already  spent 
by  the  Society.  The  Technical  Instruction  Committee 
were  therefore  besought  for  co-operation  in  extending 
the  existing  buildings  to  College  Green,  under  a  scheme 
which  would  not  only  largely  increase  the  educational 
value  of  the  Institution,  but  would  make  a  notable 
addition  to  the  elegance  and  amenity  of  the  neighbour- 
hood. The  Civic  Committee,  however,  did  not  see  their 
way  to  respond  to  this  invitation. 

It  is  disappointing  to  observe  the  lack  of  public 
sympathy  and  support  in  respect  of  the  proposal  to 
create  in  Bristol  one  of  those  large  and  complete 


Technical  Institutes  which,  in  the  opinion  of  all 
experienced  authorities,  are  essential  for  the  future 
prosperity  of  British  manufactures  and  commerce.  If 
this  apathy  be  due  to  an  expectation  that  the  boon  will 
be  supplied  by  the  unassisted  liberality  of  the  Merchants' 
Society,  the  present  writer  is  enabled  to  state  plainly  that 
such  a  result  is  impracticable.  The  popular  estimate  of 
the  Society's  income — founded  partly  on  the  reported 
wealth  of  the  great  London  Companies,  and  partly  on  a 
failure  to  distinguish  between  the  Society's  corporate 
property  and  the  large  charity  estates  of  which  they  are 
trustees  and  from  which  they  derive  no  benefit — is 
absurdly  exaggerated.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  the  clear 
annual  revenue  with  which  the  Society  is  free  to  deal  at 
its  discretion  has  never  reached  ^10,000;  and,  as  four- 
fifths  of  this  at  the  least  are  already  habitually  devoted 
to  public  objects — mostly  charitable,  educational,  or 
religious — it  could  only  be  by  reducing  the  number,  or 
amount,  of  its  general  benefactions  that  the  Society 
could  spend  appreciably  more  on  its  Technical  College 
than  the  considerable  sum  already  contributed  to  it 
every  year. 

On  the  other  hand,  the  Technical  Instruction  Com- 
mittee of  the  City  Council  has,  for  the  support  of 
technical  education  alone,  almost  as  large  an  income 
as  that  which  serves  the  Society  for  all  purposes,  and 
the  Local  Education  Authority  of  the  future  will  have 
still  greater  resources  at  its  disposal.  Whether  that 
Authority  will  or  will  not  take  a  wider  view  of  what 
the  merchants,  manufacturers,  and  citizens  of  Bristol 
require  in  the  matter  of  education ;  and  whether  it  will 
or  will  not  recognise  that  in  co-operating  with  the  Society 
it  may  easily  establish  the  complete  Technical  Institute 
so  urgently  needed,  it  is  for  the  future  to  determine. 



As  regards  the  existing  situation,  it  may  be  submitted 
that  the  adoption  and  development  of  the  Trade  School 
is  the  greatest  and  most  useful  work  recorded  in  the 
annals  of  the  Merchant  Venturers'  Society,  except, 
perhaps,  its  indefatigable  exertions  for  the  promotion 
of  the  Bristol  Docks.  And  it  will  not  be  denied  that 
the  Hall  has  honourably  carried  out  its  undertaking  to 
conduct  its  College  "  on  similar  lines  and  with  similar 
objects"  to  those  of  the  old  Trade  School — that  is,  as 
a  School  of  Science  and  Technology  available  for  all 
classes,  particularly  for  those  of  small  means, — as  well 
as  its  expressed  intention  to  develop  all  branches  of  the 
Institution  "in  the  direction  which  may  be  found  from 
time  to  time  most  useful  for  the  promotion  of  Scientific 
and  Technological  teaching." 


*#*  The  records  of  the  sixteenth  century  are  imperfect.  Previous 
to  the  Charter  of  1639  there  was  no  fixed  day  for  the  election  of 
officers,  and  the  dates  varied  from  October  2nd  to  December  i6th, 
except  on  one  occasion,  when  the  appointments  were  made  on 
January  yth. 

1500  John  Penke 
1552  Edward  Prynne 
1566  Thomas  Kelke 
1569  Dominick  Chester 

1605  John  Hopkins 

1606  John  Whitson 

1607  Thomas  James 

1608  Matthew  Haviland 

1609  Robert  Aid  worth 

1610  Abel  Kitchen 

1611  John  Whitson 

1612  Robert  Aldworth 

1613  Matthew  Haviland 

1614  Jonn  Aldworth 

1615  Thomas  James 

1616  Matthew  Haviland 

1617  John  Barker 

1618  John  Barker 

1619  John  Conning 

1620  John  Langton 

1621  Humphrey  Hooke 

1622  John  Guy 

1623  John  Doughty 

1624  William  Pitt, 

1625  Robert  Aldworth 

1626  John  Barker 

1627  John  Tomlinson 

1628  Thomas  Wright 

1629  Humphrey  Browne 

1630  Humphrey  Hooke 

1631  Humphrey  Hooke 


David  Leyson,  John  Stokes 
Thomas  Hickes,  Robert  Butler 
Dominick  Chester,  Thomas  Alder 
Thomas  Rowland,  John  Carre 
William  Vawer,  John  Whitson 
Thomas  James,  Matthew  Haviland 
Robert  Aldworth,  Abel  Kitchen 
John  Boulton,  Thomas  Hopkins 
William  Hopkins,  John  Aldworth 
William  Cole,  George  White 
John  Barker,  John  Conning 
John  Harrison,  John  Aldworth 
Christopher  Gary,  John  Langton 
John  Barker,  Robert  Haviland 
Arthur  Hibbins,  Thomas  Wright 
Robert  Haviland,  Richard  Long 
William  Jones,  Humfrey  Browne 
William  Pitt,  Walter  Ellis 
Edward  Coxe,  William  Hicks 
Miles  Jackson,  Giles  Elbridge 
Francis  Derrick,  Nathaniel  Butcher 
William  Wyatt,  John  Tayler 
Richard  Pley,  Alexander  James 
Francis  Creswick,  Derrick  Popley 
Martin  Pring,  Thomas  Colston 
John  Gardiner,  Edward  Petre 
Gabriel  Sherman,  Thomas  Jackson 
William  Chetwind,  William  Cann 
George  Lane,  John  Conning,  jun. 
John  Langton,  jun.,  WTilliam  Hobson 
John  Langton,  jun.,  William  Hobson 





1632  Humphrey  Hooke 

1633  Humphrey  Hooke 

1634  Humphrey  Hooke 

1635  Richard  Holworthy 


1636  Richard  Long  (Mayor) 

1637  Richard  Long 

1639  (Jan.)    Humphrey  Hooke 

1639  (Nov.)  Andrew  Charleton 

1640  John  Conning 

1641  William  Jones 

1642  Alexander  James 

1643  Francis  Creswick 

1644  Thomas  Colston 

1645  William  Cann 

1646  Hugh  Browne 

1647  Joseph  Jackson 

1648  Richard  Vickris 

1649  Hugh  Browne 

1650  Miles  Jackson 

1651  Hugh  Browne 

1652  Hugh  Browne 

1653  Joseph  Jackson 

1654  Joseph  Jackson 

1655  Joseph  Jackson 

1656  Robert  Yate 

1657  William  Yeamans 

1658  Robert  Cann 

1659  John  Bowen 

1660  Henry  Creswick 

1 66 1  Henry  Creswick 

1662  Robert  Yeamans 

1663  Sir  John  Knight 

1664  Thomas  Langton 

1665  John  Willoughby 

1666  John  Knight 

1667  Walter  Tocknell 

1668  Walter  Tocknell 

1669  Robert  Vickris 

1670  William  Willett 

1671  Shershaw  Gary 

1672  Rich.  Streamer  (Mayor) 


Thomas  Hooke,  Edward  Pitt 
Thomas  Nethway,  Joseph  Jackson 
Hugh  Browne,  John  Drayton 
Thomas  Chamber,  Thomas  Griffeth 

Edmund  Arundel,  Hugh  Griffeth 
Edmund  Arundel,  Hugh  Griffeth 
Giles  Elbridge,  Thomas  Colston 
Alexander  James,  Francis  Creswick 
John  Gonning,  jun.,  Miles  Jackson 
Richard  Aldworth,  John  Langton 
Richard  Vickris,  Walter  Deyos 
Henry  Creswick,  William  Colston 
William  Bevan,  William  Cann 
Joseph  Jackson,  Thomas  Amory 
William  Dale,  James  Croft 
Edward  Tyson,  George  Lane 
Robert  Challoner,  Robert  Yate 
William  Dale,  Williampfeamans 
Robert  Cann,  William  Clare 
Thomas  Speed,  William  Merrick 
Walter  Tocknell,  Robert  Yeamans 
John  Bowen,  Robert  Vickris 
John  Knight,  jun.,  Richard  Deane 
John  Knight,  jun.,  William  Willett 
Anthony  Gay,  John  Willoughby 
Walter  Tocknell,  Thomas  Langton 
Shershaw  Gary,  John  Bowen 
John    Knight,  jun.,    Alexander 


Thomas  Langton,  Robert  Yeamans 
John  Pope,  John  Knight,  jun. 
Henry  Gough,  Thomas  Moore 
Alexander  Jackson,  William  Hassell 
Thomas  Moore,  Thomas  Scrope 
John  Aldworth,  William  Tyson 
Joseph  Creswick,  Richard  Streamer 
William  Willett,  William  Hassell 
William  Willett,  William  Hassell 
Richard  Hart,  Gabriel  Deane 
Thomas  Elton,  Thomas  Earle 
George  Lane,  jun.,  John  Knight,  jun. 
John  Cooke,  Charles  Williams 




1673  Thomas  Earle 

1674  William  Lysons 

1675  Richard  Hart 

1676  Richard  Hart 

1677  George  Lane 

1678  Do.   (died),  William 


1679  William  Hayman 

1680  William  Jackson 

1681  Thomas  Elton  (Mayor) 

1682  William  Merrick 

1683  William  Clutterbuck 


1684  Richard  Lane 

1685  Edward  Tocknell 

1686  Edward  Tocknell 

1687  W7illiam  Donning 

1688  Arthur  Hart  (Mayor) 

1689  Giles  Merrick 

1690  William  Swymmer 

1691  John  Cooke 

1692  Robert  Yate  (Mayor) 

1693  Robert  Yate 

1694  Samuel  Price 

1695  Samuel  Price 

1696  Peter  Saunders 

1697  Peter  Saunders 

1698  Sir  William  Daines 

1699  Sir  William  Daines 

1700  James  Hollidge 

1701  James  Hollidge 

1702  Thomas  Hort 

1703  Thomas  Hort 

1704  William  Clarke 

1705  William  Clarke 

1706  John  Bachelor 

1707  John  Bachelor 

1708  Abraham  Elton,  sen. 

1709  Anthony  Swymmer 

1710  Thomas  Moore 

1711  George  Mason 


William  Hayman,  William  Browne 
William  Jackson,  William  Donning 
Arthur  Hart,  George  Hart 
Arthur  Hart,  George  Hart 
Edmund  Arundell,  Samuel  Hale 
Giles  Merrick,  Stephen  Watts 

William  Swymmer,  Edward  Tocknell 
Richard  Lane,  William  Merrick 
William  Clutterbuck,   John  Knight 
Samuel  Price,  Henry  Daniel 
John  Gary,  John  Combes 

John  Yeamans,  John  Cann 
Robert  Yate,  Walter  Lougher 
Robert  Yate,  Walter  Lougher 
Peter  Saunders,  Richard  Champney 
Thomas  Cole,  Charles  Pope 
John  Seward,  John  Yeamans,  jun. 
Jacob  Beele,  Robert  Kirk 
Henry  Gibbes,  Edward  Jones 
Thomas  Richardson,  William  Daniel 
Thomas  Richardson,  William  Daniel 
Sir  Rich.  Crump,  John  Swymmer 
Joseph  Jackson,  James  Hollidge 
Thomas  Hort,  Thomas  Earle 
Thomas  Hort,  William  Clarke 
John  Bachelor,  John  Day,  sen. 
Abraham  Elton,  Anthony  Swymmer 
Thomas  Moore,  Isaac  Davies 
Thomas  Moore,  George  Mason 
Abraham  Hooke,  Richard  Franklyn 
Abraham  Hooke,  Richard  Franklyn 
Philip  Freke,  Henry  Watts 
Sir  John  Duddlestone,  Francis 


John  Day,  William  Swymmer 
Henry  Swymmer,  Joseph 


Abraham  Elton,  jun.,  James  Donning 
Joseph  Earle,  William  Hart 
Abraham  Birkin,  John  Becher 
Robert  Bound,  Joshua  Franklyn 




1712  Abraham  Hooke 

1713  Philip  Freke 

1714  Henry  Watts 

1715  Sir  J.  Duddleston  (died), 

H.  Watts 

1716  John  Day  (Mayor) 

1717  William  Swymmer 

1718  Henry  Swymmer 

1719  Abraham  Elton  (Mayor) 

1720  James  Donning 

1721  Joseph  Earle 

1722  John  Becher 

1723  Thomas  Longman 

1724  Samuel  Hunt 

1725  Jeremy  Innys 

1726  John  Blackwell 

1727  John  Norman 

1728  Jacob  Elton 

1729  Abel  Grant 

1730  James  Hilhouse 

1731  Edmund  Baugh 

1732  Peter  Day 

1733  Robert  Earle 

1734  J°hn  Hollidge 

1735  James  Day 

1736  John  Duckinfield 

1737  John  Coysgarne 

1738  Richard  Lougher 

1739  Thomas  Eston 

1740  William  Challoner 

1741  Lionel  Lyde 

1742  John  Day 

1743  Richard  Henville 

1744  Walter  Lougher 

1745  Arthur  Hart 

1746  Robert  Smith 

1747  Christopher  Willoughby 

1748  John  Foy 

1749  Michael  Becher 

1750  Henry  Dampier 

1751  James  Laroche 

1752  William  Hare 


John  Hawkins,  Hugh  Bickham 
Thomas  Longman,  Samuel  Hunt 
Jeremy  Innys,  Joseph  Browne 
John  Blackwell,  William  Attwood 

John  Norman,  Jacob  Elton 
Abel  Grant,  James  Hilhouse 
Chris.  Shuter,  Marmaduke  Bowdler 
William  Freke,  Edmund  Baugh 
Peter  Day,  Robert  Earle 
John  Hollidge,  Edward  Jones 
Nathaniel  Wraxall,  John  Hobbs 
John  King,  James  Day 
John  Duckingfield,  John  Coysgarne 
Edward  Foy,  Edward  Curtis 
Richard  Lougher,  Harrington  Gibbs 
Thomas  Eston,  Thomas  Freke 
John  Templeman,  Will.  Challoner 
Lionel  Lyde,  Michael  Pope 
John  Day,  Richard  Henville 
Henry  Combe,  Walter  Lougher 
Michael  White,  Arthur  Hart 
Robert  Smith,  Chris.  Willoughby 
Henry  Hart,  John  Foy 
Lewis  Casamajor,  Thos. 


Michael  Becher,  Henry  Dampier 
William  Jefferies,  James  Laroche 
William  Hare,  Nathaniel  Foy 
Abraham  Elton,  Edward  Cooper 
William  Duckinfield,  John  Hilhouse 
William  Hart,  jun.,  Joseph  lies 
Henry  Swymmer,  Cranfield  Becher 
Abraham  Elton,  Henry  Casamajor 
Isaac  Baugh,  James  Day 
Joseph  Jefferis,  Thomas  Power 
Joseph  Daltera,  John  King 
George  Becher,  Edward  Willcocks 
Richard  Farr,  William  Bowen 
Henry  Hobhouse,  Samuel  Smith 
Robert  Bound,  George  Daubeny 
John  Cross,  Isaac  Elton 
William  Reeve,  James  Hilhouse 




1753  Nathaniel  Foy 

1754  Edward  Cooper 

1755  Henry  Swymmer 

1756  Cranfield  Becher 

1757  Abraham  Elton 

1758  Henry  Casamajor 

1759  Isaac  Baugh 

1760  Joseph  Daltera 

1761  William  Hart 

1762  Richard  Farr 

1763  Samuel  Smith 

1764  Isaac  Elton 

1765  William  Reeve 

1766  James  Bonbonous 

1767  Sir  Ab.  Isaac  Elton,  Bart. 

1768  Samuel  Munkley 

1769  Andrew  Pope 

1770  William  Jones 

1771  Thomas  Farr 

1772  James  Daltera 

1773  Isaac  Elton,  jun. 

1774  Robert  Smith 

1775  Paul  Farr 

1776  Henry  Garnett 

1777  Samuel  Span 

1778  Michael  Miller,  jun. 

1779  John  Powell 

1780  Thomas  Perkins 

1781  Henry  Cruger  (Mayor) 

1782  Sir  James  Laroche,  Bart. 

1783  John  Fowler 

1784  George  Daubeny 

1785  Jeremiah  Hill 

1786  Edward  Brice 


Ebenezer  Hare,  James  Bonbonous 
Abraham  Isaac  Elton,  Francis 


Samuel  Munkley,  William  Wansey 
John  Hobhouse,  Edward  Charleton 
Richard  Combe,  Thomas  Farr,  jun. 
Andrew  Pope,  James  Daltera 
Joseph  Daltera,  Richard  Farr 
Thomas  Willoughby,  Samuel  Smith 
William  Jones,  Samuel  Span 
Nathaniel  Wraxall,  William 


Isaac  Elton,  jun.,  Peter  Hatton 
Robert  Smith,  Paul  Farr 
Samuel  Gardner,  James  Laroche, 


Andrew  Reeve,  S.  Gardner  (died), 

C.  Becher 

Michael  Miller,  jun.,  Henry  Garnett 
John  Powell,  Henry  Cruger 
George  Daubeny,  Thomas  Perkins 
George  Champion,  Edward  Elton 
John  Fowler,  William  Weare 
Richard  Champion,  Henry 


John  Vaughan,  Jeremiah  Hill 
Paul  Farr,  John  Powell 
Edward  Brice,  John  Garnett 
John  Champion,  Henry  Hobhouse 
John  Daubeny,  George  Gibbs 
Henry  Casamajor,  John  Fisher 


Jeremiah  Hill,  jun.,  Richard  Bright 
James  Martin  Hilhouse,  Joshua 


John  Fowler,  jun.,  Joseph  Harford 
Charles  Hill,  John  Scandrett 

William  Weare,  jun.,  Samuel 


John  Cave,  Timothy  Powell 
Thomas  Hungerford  Powell, 

Joseph  Bonbonous 
Thomas  Hill,  Walter  Powell 




1787  John  Vaughan 

1788  Henry  Hobhouse 

1789  John  Daubeny 

1790  George  Gibbs 

1791  Jeremiah  Hill,  jun. 

1792  Richard  Bright 

1793  James  Martin  Hilhouse 

J794  John  Garnett 

1795  Joshua  Powell 

1796  Joseph  Harford 

1797  Charles  Hill 

1798  John  Scandrett  Harford 

1799  Samuel  Whitchurch 

1800  Timothy  Powell 

1801  Thomas  Hungerford  Powell 

1802  Joseph  Bonbonous 

1803  Thomas  Hill 

1804  John  Gordon 

1805  Thomas  Daniel 

1806  Charles  Joseph  Harford 

1807  John  Cave 

1808  William  Fowler 

1809  Richard  Vaughan,  jun. 

1810  James  Fowler 

1811  John  Blackwell 

1812  William  Peter  Lunell 

1813  Mark  Harford 

1814  Andrew  Pope 

1815  Samuel  Brice 

1816  Rich.  Sargent  Fowler 

1817  Stephen  Cave 

1818  Edward  Brice 

John  Gordon,  jun.,  William 


Richard  Tombs,  James  Rogers 
William  Miles,  Thomas  Daniel,  jun. 
William  Fowler,  SamuelWhitchurch 
Charles  Joseph  Harford, 

John  Cave,  jun. 
Richard  Vaughan,  jun., 

James  Fowler 
John  Blackwell,  William  Peter 


James  Jones,  Mark  Harford 
Isaac  Bence,  Charles  Hill 

Thomas  Daniel,  Charles  Joseph 

Samuel  Whitchurch,  Andrew  Pope 
Thomas  Daniel,  Samuel  Brice 
Edw.  Prothero,  Rich.  Sargent 


Hugh  Vaughan,  Edward  Brice,  jun. 
Samuel  Span,  Hugh  Vaughan 
Samuel   Whitchurch,  Wm.   Diaper 


George  Hilhouse,  Benjamin  Bickley 
George    Gibbs,   jun.,   Ant.    Palmer 


William  Gibbons,  Robert  Bruce 
John  Thomson,  Charles  Harvey 
Thomas  Hellicar,  Robert  Bush 
John  Barrow,  James  George 
Joseph  Hellicar,  Robert  Vizer 
Benjamin  Bickley,  Robert  Bruce 
William  Perry,  Thomas  Durbin 

Abraham  Hilhouse,  James  George, 


William  Danson,  Philip  Protheroe 
Butler  Thompson  Claxton,  Jas.  Jos. 


Robert  Willis  Vizer,  James  George 
Robert  Hilhouse,  Robert  Bruce, 


Henry  Brooke,  George  Lunell 
Peter  Maze,  John  Barrow 




1819  William  Diaper  Brice 

1820  George  Gibbs 

1821  Robert  Bruce 

1822  George  Hilhouse 

1823  Robert  Bush 

1824  John  Barrow 

1825  Abraham  Hilhouse 

1826  Philip  Protheroe 

1827  James  George 

1828  James  Joseph  Whitchurch 

1829  Thomas  Durbin  Brice 

1830  Robert  Bruce,  jun. 

1831  Peter  Maze 

1832  Rich.  Dawbney  Brice 

1833  Henry  George  Fowler 

1834  Thomas  Daniel,  jun. 

1835  Jonn  Evans  Lunell 

1836  William  Claxton 

1837  Peter  Maze,  jun. 

1838  Valentine  Hellicar 

1839  Robert  Gay  Barrow 

1840  John  Hellicar 

1841  Francis  Savage 

1842  John  Savage 

1843  John  Harding 

1844  Charles  Pinney 

1845  Edward  Drew 

1846  Richard  Robinson 

1847  Geo.  Woodroffe  Frankly n 

1848  Henry  Bush 

1849  John  Hurle 

1850  William  T.  Poole  King 

1851  Richard  T.  Poole  King 

1852  William  Brice 


Samuel  Lunell,  Henry  Brooke 
Hugh  William  Danson,  John  Barrow 
Martin  Hilhouse,  Peter  Maze 
Rich.   Dawbney  Brice,    Hen.  Geo. 


Edmond  Danson,  William  Bruce 
Thomas  Daniel,  jun.,   John  Evans 


William  Claxton,  Peter  Maze 
George  Lunell,  James  Maze 
Rich.  Walker  Fowler,  Peter  Maze, 

Hugh  William  Danson,    Valentine 


Val.  Hellicar,  Danvers  Hill  Ward 
George    Lunell,    Hugh   William 

John    Evans    Lunell,    Rob.    Gay 


Danvers  Hill  Ward,  Edward  Hinton 
James  Syms  Barrow,  John  Hellicar 
John  Haythorne,  William  Claxton 
Peter  Maze,  jun.,  William  Brice 
Peter  Maze,  jun.,  Rob.  Gay  Barrow 
Philip   Protheroe,   Francis  Savage, 


William  Claxton,  George  Lunell 
Philip  Protheroe,  John  Savage 
John  Harding,  Charles  Pinney 
Wil.  Weaver  Davies,  Edward  Drew 
George  Lunell,  Richard  Robinson 
Francis  Savage,  Christopher  George 
Geo.    Woodroffe    Franklyn,    Henry 

John   Harding,    Wm.    Thos.    Poole 


Valentine  Hellicar,  John  Hurle 

James  George,  Henry  Brice 

John  Harding,  Rich.  Jenkins  Poole 


Robert  Gay  Barrow,  Charles  Pinney 
James  George,  Richard  Robinson 
Valentine  Hellicar,  George  Pope 
James  George,  Charles  Pinney 




1853  George  Pope 

1854  John  Salmon 

1855  James  Hassell 

1856  Thomas  Porter  Jose 

1857  William  Oliver  Bigg 

1858  Mark  Davis  Protheroe 

1859  James  Bush 

1860  Francis  Kentucky  Barnes 

1861  Frederick  William  Green 

1862  John  Averay  Jones 

1863  John  Averay  Jones 

1864  Odiarne  Coates  Lane 

1865  Thomas  Barnes 

1866  Sholto  Vere  Hare 

1867  Robert  Gay  Barrow 

1868  John  Frederick  Lucas 

1869  William  Proctor  Baker 

1870  Wm.  Wilberforce  Jose 

1871  Hy.  Cruger  Wm.  Miles 

1872  Thomas  Terrett  Taylor 

1873  Wm.  Aug.  Fred.  Powell 

1874  Mervyn  Kesteman  King 

1875  Arthur  Baker 

1876  Charles  Bowles  Hare 

1877  Francis  Frederick  Fox 

1878  Francis  Frederick  Fox 

1879  George  William  Edwards 

1880  John  Noble  Coleman  Pope 

1 88 1  Robert  Hassell 

1882  George  de  Lisle  Bush 

1883  Charles  Octavius  Harvey 

1884  Reg.  Wyndham 


1885  Charles  Paul 

1886  John  Henry  Woodward 

1887  Percy  Liston  King 

1888  Edw.  Beadon  Colthurst 

1889  Thomas  Poole  King 

1890  Hy.  Willoughby  Beloe 

1891  Hy.  Fred.  Tobin  Bush 


Robert  Gay  Barrow,  John  Salmon 
Edward  Drew,  James  Hassell 
Thos.  Porter  Jose,  Wm.  Oliver  Bigg 
Wm.O.  Bigg,  Mark  Davis  Protheroe 
Alfred  John  Acraman,  James  Bush 
Jas.  Bush,  Francis  K.  Barnes 
Francis  K.  Barnes,  Fred.  W.  Green 
Fred.  Wm.  Green,  John  A.  Jones 
John  A.  Jones,  Ed.  Thos.  Lucas 
Edw.  T.  Lucas,  Odiarne  C,  Lane 
O.  Coates  Lane,  Thomas  Barnes 
Thomas  Barnes,  Sholto  Vere  Hare 
Sholto  Vere  Hare,  Charles  Ringer 
Charles  Ringer,  John  F.  Lucas 
J.  F.  Lucas,  Wm.  P.  Baker 
Wm.  P.  Baker,  Wm.  W.  Jose 
Wm.  W.  Jose,  Hy.  Cruger  Wm. 

H.  Cruger  W.  Miles,  Thos.  T. 


Thos.  T.  Taylor,  Wm.  A.  F.  Powell 
W.  A.  F.  Powell,  Mervyn  K.  King 
Mervyn  K.  King,  Arthur  Baker 
Arthur  Baker,  Charles  B.  Hare 
Charles  B.  Hare,  Fras.  F.  Fox 

F.  F.  Fox,  G.  W.  Edwards  (Mayor) 

G.  W.  Edwards  (Mayor),  J.  N.  C. 

G.  W.  Edwards,  J.  Noble  C.  Pope 
John  N.  C.  Pope,  Robert  Hassell 
Rob.  Hassell,  G.  de  Lisle  Bush 
G.  de  Lisle  Bush,  Charles  O.  Harvey 
C.  O.  Harvey,  R.  W.  Butterworth 
R.  W.  Butterworth,  Charles  Paul 

Charles  Paul,  John  H.  Woodward 
J.  H.  Woodward,  Percy  L.  King 
P.  L.  King,  Edw.  B.  Colthurst 
E.  B.  Colthurst,  T.  Poole  King 
T.  P.  King,  Harry  W.  Beloe 
H.  W.  Beloe,  Hy.  Fred.  T.  Bush 
H.  F.  T.  Bush,  Thos.  G.  Matthews 
T.  G.  Matthews,  Rich.  A.  Fox 




1892  Thomas  Gadd  Matthews 

1893  Richard  Anstice  Fox 

1894  Edw.  Burrow  Hill 

1895  Edw.  Burnett  James 

1896  Wm.  Welsford  Ward 

1897  John  Henry  Clarke 

1898  Herbert  George  Edwards 

1899  Averay  Neville  Jones 

1900  Geo.  Oswald  Spafford 

1901  Edgar  A.  V.  Baker 

1902  Thomas  Ruding  Davey 


R.  A.  Fox,  John  H.  Woodward 
Edw.  B.  Hill,  Edw.  B.  James 
E.  B.  James,  Wm.  W.  Ward 
W.  W.  Ward,  John  H.  Clarke 
J.  H.  Clarke,  Herb.  G.  Edwards 
H.  G.  Edwards,  A.  N.  Jones 
A.  N.  Jones,  Geor.  O.  Spafford 
G.  O.  Spafford,  Edgar  A.  V.  Baker 
E.  A.  V.  Baker,  Thos.  R.  Davey 
T.  R.  Davey,  Allan  Me  Arthur 
Allan  Me  Arthur,  Geo.  H.  Pope 


1605  Thomas  Aldworth 

1606  William  Hopkins 

1607  William  Cole 

1608  John  Rowberoe 

1609  George  White 

1610  Thomas  Whitehead 

1611  John  Guy 

1612  John  Barker 

1613  John  Gonning 

1614  John  Gonning 

1615  John  Langton 

1616  Humfrey  Hooke 

1617  Andrew  Charleton 

1618  John  Tomlinson 

1619  Thomas  Wright 

1620  Humfrey  Browne 

1621  Peter  Miller 

1622  Richard  Holworthy 

1623  Richard  Long 

1624  William  Jones 

1625  Nathaniel  Butcher 

1626  John  Taylor 

1627  John  Locke 

1628  Walter  Ellis 

1629  Richard  Play 

1630  Richard  Aldworth 

1631  Alexander  James 

1632  Francis  Creswick 

1633  Giles  Elbridge 

1634  Thomas  Colston 

1635  Gabriel  Sherman 

1636  John  Gonning,  jun. 

1637  John  Gonning,  jun. 

1639  John  Langton 

1640  Thomas  Hooke 

1641  William  Cann 

1642  William  Wyatt 

1643  Hugh  Browne 

1644  Walter  Deyos 

1645  Walter  Sandy 

1646  Robert  Challoner 

1647  Henry  Creswick 

1648  James  Croft 

1649  Robert  Yate 

1650  William  Dale 

1651  William  Yeamans 

1652  George  Lane,  sen. 

1653  Robert  Cann 

1654  John  Willoughby 

1655  John  Willoughby 

1656  Robert  Vickris 

1657  William  Merrick 

1658  to  1664  Walter  Tocknell 
1665  to  1672  Robert  Yate 




1673  William  Lysons 
1674-5-6  Robert  Yate 
1677-8-9  Richard  Hart 
1680  to  1683  Sir  Richart  Hart 
1684  William  Hayman  (Mayor) 
1685-6-7  (Sir)  William  Merrick 

1688  William  Jackson 

1689  Arthur  Hart 

1690  Giles  Merrick 

1691  to  1696  William  Swymmer 
1697-8-9  Charles  Jones 

1700  to  1704  Peter  Saunders 
1705-6-7  Abraham  Elton 
1708  William  Hart 
1709-10-11  Henry  Watts 

1712  to  1729  Robert  Earle 
1730-1  William  Jefferis 
1732-3  Henry  Lloyd 
1734  to  1744  Henry  Combe 
1745  to  1750  James  Laroche 
1751  to  1772  Christopher 


1773  to  1800  James  Daltera 
1801  to  1815  Samuel  Whitchurch 
1816  to  1840  Joseph  Hellicar 
1841  to  1872  William  Claxton 
1873  to  J875  John  Hellicar 
1876  to  1900  George  Henry  Pope 
1901  Percy  Listen  King 


ABBOT,  HENRY  NAPIER,  Esq.,  Shannon  Court,  Bristol. 
ABBOT,  L.  C.  F.,  Esq.,  Bradford-on-Avon. 
ANDREWS,  W.,  Esq.,  Hull  Subscription  Library,  Hull. 
ANTIQUARIES,  THE  SOCIETY  OF,  Burlington  House,  London. 

8 1  Coleman  Street,  London,  E.G. 

ARROWSMITH,  J.  W.,  Esq.,  n  Quay  Street,  Bristol. 

BAKER,  ARTHUR,  Esq.,  Henbury,  Bristol  (2  copies). 

BARKER,  W.  R.,  Esq.,  106  Redland  Road,  Bristol. 

BEAVEN,  Rev.  A.  B.,  M.A.,  Greyfriars,  Leamington. 

BELOE,  H.  W.,  Esq.,  Redcliff  Backs,  Bristol. 

BOARD  OF  EDUCATION,  South  Kensington,  London,  S.W. 

BOARD,  J.  T.,  Esq.,  Distillery,  Bristol. 

BOBBETT,  ARTHUR  F.,  Esq.,  24  Westfield  Park,  Bristol. 

BOWLES,  H.  B.,  Esq.,  35  Oakfield  Road,  Clifton. 

BRAIKENRIDGE,  WILLIAM  JERDONE,  Esq.,  16  Royal  Crescent,  Bath. 

BRAMBLE,  Lieut. -Col.  JAMES  R.,  F.S.A.,  Seafield,  Weston-super-Mare. 

BRISTOL,  THE  LORD  BISHOP  OF,  The  Palace,  Redland  Green,  Bristol. 

BRISTOL,  THE  CORPORATION  OF,  Council  House,  Bristol. 

BRISTOL,   THE   CORPORATION   OF,   for    Central    Public   Library   (c/o 
Messrs.  George's  Sons). 

BRISTOL  MUSEUM  LIBRARY,  Queen's  Road,  Bristol. 

BRISTOL   MUSEUM   SUBSCRIPTION    LIBRARY,   Queen's   Road,   Bristol 
(2  copies). 

BURGESS,  P.,  Esq.,  Chipping  Sodbury. 
BUSH,  JOHN,  Esq.,  9  Pembroke  Road,  Clifton. 

CARPENTER,  R.  H.,  Esq.,  43  Canynges  Road,  Clifton. 
CARTWRIGHT,  F.  F.,  Esq.,  St.  Stephen  Street,  Bristol. 
CAVE,  CHARLES  H.,  Esq.,  Rodway  Hill  House,  Mangotsfield. 
CAVELL,  ARTHUR  S.,  Esq.,  10  Elgin  Park,  Redland,  Bristol. 
CHALLENGER,  CHARLES,  Esq.,  n  Glentworth  Road,  Redland,  Bristol. 
CHESTER-MASTER,  Colonel,  Knole  Park,  Almondsbury,  Glos. 



CLARKE,  JOHN  HENRY,  Esq.,  28  Broad  Street,  Bristol. 

CLOTHWORKERS,    THE    WORSHIPFUL    COMPANY    OF,   Mincing    Lane, 
London,  E.G. 

COLTHURST,  E.  BEADON,  Esq.,  93  Pembroke  Road,  Clifton. 
COPE-PROCTOR,  C.  W.,  Esq.,  70  Pembroke  Road,  Clifton  (2  copies). 
CRIPPS,  WILFRID  J.,  Esq.,  C.B.,  Cripps'  Mead,  Cirencester. 

DANIEL,  HENRY,  Esq.,  Victoria  Villa,  Tyndall's  Park  Road,  Bristol. 
DAVEY,  T.  RUDING,  Esq.,  The  Coppice,  Leigh  Woods  (2  copies). 
DAY,  H.  C.  A.,  Esq.,  59  Broad  Street,  Bristol. 

DORINGTON,  Right  Hon.  Sir  JOHN  E.,  Bart.,   M.P.,  Lypiatt  Park, 

EBERLE,  J.  FULLER,  Esq.,  96  Pembroke  Road,  Clifton. 
EDGEWORTH,  THOMAS  F.,  Esq.,  127  Cheltenham  Road,  Bristol. 
ELTON,  Sir  E.  H.,  Bart.,  Clevedon  Court,  Somerset. 
EVANS,  ARNOLD,  Esq.,  4  Litfield  Place,  Clifton. 
EVANS,  P.  F.  SPARKE,  Esq.,  Trinmore,  Clifton  Down. 

FORD,  ROGER,  Esq.,  Kensington  Place,  Royal  Park,  Clifton. 

Fox,  FRANCIS  F.,  Esq.,  F.S.A.,  Yate  House,  Yate,  Glos.  (5  copies). 

Fox.  CHARLES  HENRY,  Esq.,  M.D.,  35  Heriot  Row,  Edinburgh. 

FRIENDLY  READING  SOCIETY,  c/o  F.  C.  Tuckett,  Esq.,  6  Leigh  Road, 

FRY,  CLAUDE  B.,  Esq.,  Howecroft,  Stoke  Bishop. 
FRY,  FRANCIS  JAMES,  Esq.,  Cricket  St.  Thomas,  Chard. 
FRY,  JOSEPH  STORRS,  Esq.,  Union  Street,  Bristol. 
FRY,  THE  RIGHT  HON.  LEWIS,  Goldney  House,  Clifton. 

GARDINER,  CLEMENT,  Esq.,  14  John  Street,  Bristol. 

GARDNER,  C.  E.  L.,  Esq.,  6  Priory  Road,  Clifton. 

GEORGE,  WILLIAM  E.,  Esq.,  Downside,  Stoke  Bishop  (2  copies). 

GEORGE'S  SONS,  WILLIAM,  Park  Street  (4  copies). 

GIBBS,  H.  MARTIN,  Esq.,  Barrow  Court,  Flax  Bourton. 

GILCHRIST,  JAMES,  Esq.,  24  College  Road,  Clifton. 

GOLDNEY,  FREDERICK  HASTINGS,  Esq.,  Beechfield,  Corsham,  Wilts. 

GRACE,  ALEXANDER,  Esq.,  Welsh  Back,  Bristol. 

GRANT,  THOMAS,  Esq.,  9  Carnarvon  Road,  Redland,  Bristol. 

GRIFFITHS,  L.  M.,  Esq.,  n  Pembroke  Road,  Clifton. 

HAMMOND,  WILLIAM,  Esq.,  Belmont  Lodge,  Sneyd  Park. 
HARFORD,  W.  H.,  Esq.,  Oldown  House,  Tockington,  Glos. 



HARVEY,  J.  G.  RUSSELL,  Esq.,  Denmark  Street,  Bristol. 

HAWKINS,  WALTER,  Esq.,  Times  and  Mirror,  Bristol. 

HESELTINE,  E.  J.,  Esq.,  Corporation  of  the  Trinity  House,  Hull. 

HOBHOUSE,  C.  E.,  Esq ,  M.P.,  The  Ridge,  Corsham,  Wilts. 

HOWELL,  J.  H.,  Esq.,  104  Pembroke  Road,  Clifton. 

HUDD,  ALFRED  E.,  Esq.,  F.S.A.,  94  Pembroke  Road,  Clifton. 

HUGHES,  W.  W.,  Esq.,  2  Downfield  Road,  Clifton. 

JONES,  AVERAY,  Esq.,  81  Pembroke  Road,  Clifton. 

LEGASSE,  AUVERLEAUX,  Esq.,  25  Rue  des  Minimes,  Brussels,  Belgium. 
LANE,  J.  TREMAYNE,  Esq.,  City  Treasurer,  Council  House,  Bristol. 
LEWIS,  ARCHIBALD  M.,  Esq.,  3  Upper  Byron  Place,  Clifton. 
LLOYD,  P.  J.,  Esq.,  22  Hurle  Crescent,  Clifton. 

MARDON,  HEBER,  Esq.,  2  Litfield  Place,  Clifton. 

MARYLAND   HISTORICAL    SOCIETY,   300   St.   Paul   Street,   Baltimore, 
Maryland,  U.S.A. 

MEADE-KING,  H.,  Esq.,  8  Baldwin  Street,  Bristol. 

MERCHANT   VENTURERS'    SOCIETY,    Merchants'    Hall,    Bristol,    (100 

MOXLEY,  W.  S.,  Esq.,  9  Elgin  Park,  Redland,  Bristol. 

NEW  YORK  HISTORICAL  SOCIETY,  170  Second  Avenue,  New  York  City, 

ORD,  COLONEL  F.  C.,  Redland  Hall,  Bristol. 
OSBORNE,  JERE,  Esq.,  9  Clifton  Park,  Clifton. 

PASS,  ALFRED  CAPPER,  Esq.,  Wootton  Fitzpaine,  Charmouth,  Dorset 

(2  copies). 

PAUL,  W.  EDGAR,  Esq.,  55  Woodstock  Road,  Redland,  Bristol. 
PAUL,  WALTER  S.,  Esq.,  13  Hurle  Crescent,  Clifton. 
PAUL,  TRENCH  &  Co.,  Charing  Cross  Road,  London. 
PEARSON,  GEORGE,  Esq.,  Bannerleigh,  Woodland  Road,  Bristol. 
PINNEY,  FREDERICK  W.,  Esq.,  The  Grange,  Somerton,  Somerset. 
POPE,  J.  N.  C.,  Esq.,  n  The  Paragon,  Clifton. 
POPE,  Miss,  9  The  Paragon,  Clifton. 
POPE,  Rev.  ANDREW,  Upton  Bishop,  Ross,  Herefordshire. 
POWELL,  CECIL,  Esq.,  The  Hermitage,  Weston-super-Mare. 
PRANKERD,  PETER  D.,  Esq.  (the  late),  The  Knoll,  Sneyd  Park. 


PRITCHARD,  JOHN  E.,  Esq.,  F.S.A.,  8  Cold  Harbour  Road,  Redland, 

PROTHEROE,   FRANK,    Esq.,    16   Arundel    Mansions,    Fulham    Road, 
London,  S.W. 

REDLAND  PARK  BOOK  SOCIETY,  c/o  V.  A.  Williams,  Esq.,  77  Park 
Street,  Bristol. 

REID,  WALTER,  Esq.,  The  Woodlands,  Woodland  Road,  Bristol. 

RICHARDSON,  H.,  Esq.,  Literary  and  Philosophical  Society,  Newcastle- 

ROBERTS,    Sir   OWEN,    F.S.A.,  Clothworkers'   Hall,  Mincing   Lane 
London,  E.G. 

RYLAND,  CHARLES  J.,  Esq.,  10  Alexander  Road,  Clifton. 

SAMPSON,  WALTER  W.,  Esq.,  Municipal  Charities  Office,  St.  Stephen 
Street,  Bristol. 

SAVILE,  CHARLES  C.,  Esq.,  Clifton  Wood  House,  Clifton. 
SIMPSON,  J.  J.,  Esq.,  Osborne  House,  Gotham  Park,  Bristol. 
STURGE,  ROBERT  F.,  Esq.,  101  Pembroke  Road,  Clifton. 
SWANN,  E.  J.,  Esq.,  The  Gables,  Leigh  Woods. 

TARR,  FRANCIS  J.,  Esq.,  10  St.  Stephen  Street,  Bristol. 

TAYLOR,  ALFRED  T.,  Esq.,  9  Leigh  Road  South,  Clifton. 

TAYLOR,  EDMUND  J.,  Esq.,  Town  Clerk,  Council  House,  Bristol. 

TAYLOR,  GOODENOUGH,  Esq.,  77  Pembroke  Road,  Clifton. 

TAYLOR,  THOMAS  D.,  Esq.,  Hillside  House,  Redland  Green,  Bristol. 

THATCHER,  THOMAS,  Esq.,  44  College  Green,  Bristol  (2  copies). 

THOMAS,  CHARLES,  Esq.,  Pitch  and  Pay,  Stoke  Bishop. 

THOMAS,    HERBERT,    Esq.,   Ivor   House,    Durdham   Park,   Redland, 


THOMAS,  HARRY  E.,  Esq.,  Rockleaze  Point,  Stoke  Bishop. 
TITLEY,   WILLIAM   A.,    Esq.,    Chescombe   Lodge,  Durdham   Down, 

TORONTO,  UNIVERSITY  OF,  c/o  Cazenove  &  Son,  26  Henrietta  Street, 

London,  W.C. 

TOWSE,  J.  W.,  Esq.,  Fishmongers'  Hall,  London  Bridge,  E.G. 
TRAPNELL,  CALEB,  Esq.,  60  St.  John's  Road,  Clifton. 
TRYON,  S.,  Esq.,  5  Beaufort  Road,  Clifton. 
TUCKER,  C.  H.,  Esq.,  5  Royal  Park,  Clifton. 
TUCKETT,  R.  C.,  Esq.,  5  Beaufort  Buildings,  Clifton. 
TUCKETT,  F.  COLDSTREAM,  Esq.,  6  Leigh  Road,  Clifton. 
TUCKETT,  F.  F.,  Esq.,  F.R.G.S.,  Frenchay,  near  Bristol. 
TWIGGS,  H.  WILLIAM,  Esq.,  Ellesmere,  Henleaze  Road,  near  Bristol. 

23  A 


VAUGHAN,  Rev.  HENRY,  M.A.,  Wraxall  Rectory,  near  Bristol. 

VAUGHAN,  P.  H.,  Esq.,  Redland  Hill  House,  Bristol. 

VOWLES,  WILLIAM,  Esq.,  i  Iddesleigh  Road,  Durdham  Park,  Bristol. 

WAIT,  H.  W.  KILLIGREW,  Esq.,  2  Worcester  Villas,  Clifton. 

WALKER,  EDWIN,  Esq.,  Wraxall  House,  Tyndall's  Park  Road,  Bristol. 

WARD,  W.  W.,  Esq.,  Bosloe,  near  Falmouth. 

WARREN,  ROBERT  HALL,  Esq.,  F.S.A.,  9  Apsley  Road,  Clifton. 

WATNEY,  Sir  JOHN,  F.S.A.,  Mercers'  Hall,  London,  E.G. 

WATSON,  EDWARD  J.,  Esq.,  St.  John's  Arch,  Bristol. 

WAY,  Rev.  Canon  JOHN  HUGH,  Vicarage,  Henbury,  Glos. 

WEARE,  GEORGE  E.,  Esq.,  16  Ellenborough  Crescent,  Weston-super- 

WELLS,  CHARLES,  Esq.,  134  Cromwell  Road,  Bristol. 
WERE,  FRANCIS,  Esq.,  Gratwicke  Hall,  Flax  Bourton,  Som. 

WESTON-STEVENS,   J.,   Esq.,   Sheriff,   Ravenhurst,   Beaufort    Road, 

WHITE,  GEORGE,  Esq.,  Gotham  House,  Bristol. 

WILLIAMS,  T.  W.,  Esq.,  Bank  Chambers,  Corn  Street,  Bristol. 

WILLS,  Sir  FREDERICK,  Bart.,  M.P.,  Northmoor,  Dulverton,  Som. 

WILLS,    Sir   WILLIAM    HENRY,    Bart.,    c/o    Frank   W.    Wills,    Esq., 
15  Berkeley  Square,  Bristol. 

WISE,  W.  H.,  Esq.,  Council  House,  Bristol. 
WORSLEY,  PHILIP  JOHN,  Esq.,  Rodney  Lodge,  Clifton. 

PRESENTATION  COPIES:    Public  Libraries,  5;  Press,  &c.,  n. 
275  copies  printed. 


Acraman,  Bush  &  Co.,  254. 
Addington,  Henry,  hon.  freeman,  270. 
African  trade,  178;  attempted  monopoly, 

178  to  183. 

Albert,  Prince,  hon.  freeman,  270. 
Alder,  Thomas,  Warden,  46. 
Aldworth,  Robt.,  124, 140, 147, 151 ;  Thos., 

149 ;  Rich.,  160,  161. 
Algerine,  corsairs,  123,  127,  219. 
Alma  Road,  266. 

Almshouses,  see  M.  V. ;  Colston;  Hill. 
America,  exploring  schemes,  147  ;   New 

England  project,  150;  emigrants,  151-2; 

attempt  to  tax,  190 ;  harsh  treatment 

of,  190-1. 

Anchor  Society,  229,  275. 
Angtl  Gabriel  privateer,  153. 
Anson,  Lord,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Antelope,  H. M.S.,  capture  by,  203.   [268-9. 
Apprentice  laws,  32,  63,  75,  76,  77,  224  (2), 
Arctic  expedition,  157. 
Arundell,  Edm.,  136. 
Assembly  Rooms,  229. 
Assistants,  body  of,  created,  71,  88. 
Avon,  gross  obstructions  in,  155;  Society's 

improvements,  207,  245  ;  first  proposal 

for  docks,  207-8  ;  Society's  efforts,  208; 

apathy  of  city,  209  ;  plans  of  engineers, 

209  to  212,  232  ;  a  plan  adopted,  233  ; 

Society  promotes  Bill,  234  ;  (see  Docks 

Co.)  dockisation   scheme,   249;    plans 

for  improvements,  250. 
Avonmouth,   proposed    piers,    242,  251 ; 

dock,  249,  251-3. 
Back  Hall  and  chapel,  16-18,  25,  34,  83, 

86,  97. 

Baillie,  Evan,  186. 
Barham,  Lord,  hon.  freeman,  270. 
Barker,  John,  67,  81,  83,  124,  132,  152, 

158 ;  protest  against  royal  oppression, 


Barrow,  R.  Guy,  272. 
Barry  Island,  207. 
Bayonne,  trade  with,  23  «.,  59. 
Bathurst,  C.  Bragg,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Beaufort,  Dukes  of,  hon.  freemen,  225  (2), 

270  (2). 

Beere  manor  purchase,  293. 
Berkeley,  Earl  of,  hon.  freeman,  202,  225. 
Blanket  family,  n,  12. 
Bolton,  Duke  of,  289 
Bonding  warehouses,  253. 
Bordeaux  trade,  23  n. 
Botetourt,  Lord,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Bowcher,  Geo.,  119,  124;  John,  163. 
Bowyer,  Colonel,  293. 

Brice,  Edward,  185. 

Brickdale,  Matt.,  hon.  freeman,  225. 

Bright,  Rich.,  185;  Robt.,  hon.  freeman, 
247,  248,  251,  257. 

Bristol  Hope  colony,  149. 

BRISTOL  :  early  charters  and  customs, 
2>  3.  (4)4.  5.  7.  16,  24;  a  "mother" 
borough,  3 ;  its  wine  trade,  3 ;  first 
Mayor,  4 ;  pre-eminence  of  the  Mer- 
chants' Guild,  5,  8;  Great  Insurrection, 
8 ;  Craft  Guilds,  8  ;  foreigners  in,  9  ; 
the  Great  Fair,  10;  growth  of  trade, 
n ;  shipping  of,  57,  58;  a  Staple  Town, 
12-15  I  Corporate  Ordinances  for  mer- 
chants, 15,  16,  23  (2),  24,  63,  66; 
grant  for  St.  Clement's  Chapel,  19 ; 
tolls  at  the  city  gates  abolished,  37 ; 
church  plate  surrendered,  37;  Corpora- 
tion oppose  the  Society  at  election,  52; 
Society's  Act  repealed,  55;  Corporate 
policy  reversed,  82,  108 ;  piracy  by 
local  merchants,  59  ;  ship  money  and 
plea  of  poverty,  60,  123-5  ;  Wharfage 
dues  created,  64 ;  leased  to  Society, 
164,  165,  208 ;  exceptional  shipping 
privileges,  93 ;  oppressive  government, 
in  to  137;  Levant  trade,  137;  strange 
operations  in  butter,  144  n. ;  emigrants 
to  America,  151-2 ;  local  privateers, 
152,201-2,204;  an  Archbishop's  eulogy, 
156;  Civil  War,  160  to  166;  Mint  in 
Castle,  161,  176;  extension  of  quays, 
164-6;  tobacco  culture,  172;  first  print- 
ing press,  177;  Slave  Trade,  179  to  185; 
smuggling  by  local  merchants,  188-9 ; 
patriotic  funds,  201-2-5 ;  regiments 
raised,  202,  205 ;  building  mania,  204  ; 
first  proposal  for  city  docks,  207 ; 
various  projects,  208  to  234 ;  Town 
and  Mayor's  Dues,  236  to  244 ,  decay 
of  trade,  243 ;  corporate  resistance  to 
port  improvement,  250. 

Brokers,  city,  appointed,  27,  29. 

Browne,  Hum.,  83,  124,  152,  155,  161. 

Brunei,  I.  K.,  242,  257,  258,  263-4. 

Buckingham,  Duke  of,  hon.  freeman,  270. 

Burghersh,  Lord,  hon.  freeman,  225. 

Burke,  Edmund,  184,  191,  193;  letters  to 
Hall,  195-7 ;  hon.  freeman,  225. 

Bush,  Rob.,  186;  Henry,  257. 

Butler,  Rob.,  38,  39. 

Butter  monopoly,  Society's,  143. 

Calfskins'  monopoly,  Society's,  140. 

Cambridge,  Duke  of,  hon.  freeman,  270. 

Camden,  Lord,  hon.  freeman,  225. 

Cann,  William,  83,  159. 



Canning,  Geo.,  hon.  freeman,  270. 

Canynges,  William,  13,  14,  16,  58. 

Carr,  John,  51. 

Gary,  John,  on  local  trade,  177. 

Cave,  John,  186,  257. 

Catherine,  Queen,  visit  of,  168. 

Chamber  of  Commerce,  236  to  242,  255-6. 

Charles,  I.,  his  first  charter,  87  ;  second, 
105,  161  ;  illegal  exactions,  117,  118, 
135;  ship  money,  129,  133. 

Charles  II.,  Charter  of,  109  ;  visit,  162. 

CHARTERS,  Society's,  from  Edward  VI., 
38;  Elizabeth,  46;  Charles  I.,  87,  105; 
Charles  II.,  109. 

Champion,  Wm.,  his  docks,  209. 

Chandos,  Lord,  hon.  freeman,  225. 

Charleton,  Andrew,  124,  158,  160,  161. 

Chatham,  Lord,  hon.  freeman,  225. 

Chester,  Dominic,  46,  51,  52. 

China  trade  opened,  254. 

Cirencester,  see  Clothing  trade. 

Claxton,  Robt,  186;  Wm.,  portrait,  275. 

Clement's,  St.,  Chapel,  18,  19,  21,  22, 
153,  221. 

Clerks,  Society's,  229,  276. 

CLIFTON:  Hot  Well,  165-7-8-9,  214,  217, 
261  ;  Society  purchases  manor,  167  ; 
New  Hot  Well,  215,  263;  "Old  Castle," 
i68«. ;  Theatre,  Jacob's  Wells,  215; 
Cold  Baths,  Jacob's  Wells,  262 ;  Sus- 
pension Bridge,  258  ;  Down  preserved 
to  public,  260;  Rocks  Railway,  262; 
Pump  Room  and  Hydro,  262-3  '•  pro- 
posed Waterworks,  263;  Observatory, 
263 «.;  growth  of  population,  265; 
Victoria  Square,  265  ;  College,  266. 

Clothing  trade,  Bristol,  9,  10,  n. 

Coffee-roasting  restrictions,  251. 

Cole,  Thos.,  158. 

Collingwood,  Lord,  hon.  freeman,  270. 

"  Colouring"  goods,  23,  24,  170,  279. 

Colston,  Thos.,  83,  91,  124,  152,  159, 
163  (2);  Wm.,  149;  Wm.,  124,  159, 
163  (2),  173;  Rich.,  174;  Wm.  mur- 
dered, 174;  Thos.,  174;  Edw.,  jun., 
225 ;  Francis,  225. 

COLSTON  EDWARD,  174,  176,  280,  287 ; 
ALMSHOUSE,  278,  280,  282 ;  SCHOOL, 
284  to  298,  removed  to  Stapleton,  299  ; 
suits  in  Chancery,  289,  292  ;  additional 
boys,  298  ;  reorganised,  300-2 ;  Girls' 
School,  303. 

Combe,  Rich.,  220. 

Convoys  for  Bristol  ships,  203. 

Conway,  H.  S.,  hon.  freeman,  225. 

Coomber,  Thos.,  307,  314. 

Cordwaner,  Roger,  first  Mayor,  4. 

Coxe,  Sir  R.  H.,  hon.  freeman,  225. 

Cranage  dues  reduced,  245. 

Creswick,  Francis,  124,  131,  163. 

Crimps  employed,  198. 

Cruger,  Hy.,  M.P.,  186,  197. 

Cumberland,  Duke  of,  hon.  freeman,  270. 

Custom  House  extortions,  120-2. 

Customs,  receipts  from,  125,  127. 

Daniel,  Thomas,  186,  205. 

Daubeny,  George,  185,  230. 

Davis,  Hart,  hon.  freeman,  281. 

Day,  Sir  Thomas,  169,  175. 

Dean  Forest  destroyed,  132. 

Demerara  wrecked,  249. 

Diocesan  School,  304. 

Dock  schemes,  see  Avon. 

Dock  Company  formed,  234 ;  capital, 
235 ;  heavy  dues,  236  to  243 ;  dues 
reduced,  244;  treatment  of  Great 
Western,  245  ;  agitation  for  purchase  of 
docks,  246  ;  transferred  to  city,  248. 

Docks,  Champion's  floating,  209 ;  pur- 
chased by  Society,  210. 

Dolman,  John,  216. 

Dolphin  Society,  229. 

Domesday  Book  on  Bristol,  2. 

Doughty,  John,  124,  149,  153. 

Dowdeswell,  W.,  hon.  freeman,  225. 

Drake,  Admiral,  hon.  freeman,  225. 

Draper,  Sir  Wm.,  hon.  freeman,  225. 

Driver,  C.,  153. 

Dublin  granted  to  Bristol,  3. 

Ducie,  Lord,  hon.  freeman,  225. 

Duddleston,  Sir  John,  222. 

Duncan,  Lord,  hon.  freeman,  225. 

Dupplin,  Lord,  hon.  freeman,  225. 

Durdham  Down  acquired  by  city,  260. 

East  India  Company,  167,  190;  trade 
opened,  254. 

Edward  II.,  5. 

Edward  III.  :  demands  on  town,  6,  7 ; 
fosters  weaving,  n;  his  charters,  7,  16. 

Edward  VI.,  spoliation  under,  37; 
petition  of  Bristol  merchants  to,  37  ;  his 
charter  of  incorporation,  38. 

Elbridge,  Giles,  91, 124,  151, 152, 158, 163. 

Elizabeth,  Queen  :  Charter  to  Society, 
46 ;  Acts  of  Parliament,  47,  53  ;  piracy 
encouraged  by,  59 ;  demand  for  ship 
money,  60;  exactions,  112. 

Ellis,  Walter,  124,  131,  153. 

Elsworth,  Sir  R.,  108. 

Elton,  Abraham,  197,  220. 

Exchange,  grant  for  building,  218. 

Excise  scheme,  Walpole's,  189. 

Fane,  H.  and  T.,  229;  F.  and  T., 
freemen,  225. 

Farr,  Rich.,  189. 

Fitch,  J.  G.,  on  Colston's  School,  300. 
|   Fitzherbert,  Wm.,  159,  163. 

Flat  Holm  Light,  206. 

Floating  Harbour,  see  Avon. 

Foreigners  (non-freemen),  treatment  of, 
16,  23,  24,  25,  32,  78,  84,  87,  97,  100, 
102,  169,  171. 

Foster,  Sir  M.,  hon.  freeman,  225. 

Fox,  F.  F.,  272. 

France,  trade  with,  23  n.,  59,  82,  88. 

Free  Port  Association,  247,  256. 

Freemen,  riseof  civic,  9;  loss  of  privileges, 

Freemen,  honorary,  of  Society,  224,  270. 

Freightage  regulations,  30. 



Freke,  Thos.,  200. 

Friaries,  Bristol,  37. 

Fry,  Edward,  224. 

Gallows  Acre  Lane,  265. 

Gaunt's  Hospital  estates,  37. 

George,  Chris.,  278. 

Gibbes,  Henry,  131. 

Gibbs,  George,  257. 

Gloucestershire,  tobacco  culture,  171. 

Gloucester,  honour  of,  2  (2),  3. 

Gloucester  Merchants'  Guild,  6. 

Conning,  John,  66,   124,   126,   151,   152, 

160,  161  (2). 
Gordon,  John,  185. 
Gorges,  Sir  F.,  148,  150. 
Grafton,  Duke  of,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Granville,  Earl,  visit  of,  305. 
Great  House,  St.  Augustine's,   151,  285. 
Great  Red  Book,  16. 
Great  Western  Railway,  257. 
Great  Western  Steamship  Co.,  245-6. 
Grenville,  Geo.,  hon.  freeman,  223. 
Groceries,  Royal  exactions  for,  113-16. 
Gross,  Dr.,  on  Bristol  guilds,  3,  9, 10,  14. 
Guild  Merchant,  Bristol,  i. 
Guildhall,  first,  5,  26. 
Gunboats,  local,  206. 
Guy,  John,  82,  83,115, 124, 126, 148-9, 171. 
Hakluyt,  Rich.,  147. 
Halifax,  Earl  of,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Hamburg  Co.'s  monopoly,  vi.,  139. 
Hanbury  Road,  South,  266. 
Hare,  Sholto  V.,  269. 
Harford,  Jos.,  185. 
Haviland,  Mat.,  124,  140,  149. 
Hawkes,  John,  19. 
Hawkins,  Sir  John,  224. 
Hawkshaw,  Sir  John,  250,  259. 
Henrietta,  Queen,  visit  of,  162. 
Henry  II.,  Charter  to  Bristol,  3. 
Henry  III.  and  Bristol,  3,  4,  7. 
Henry  VIII.,  French  war  of,  36. 
Hicks,  Thos.,  38,  39. 
Hill,  T.  W.,  Almshouse,  277. 
Hilsborough,  Lord,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Holworthy,  Rich.,  124,  131,  149;  Lady, 


Hood,  Lord,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Hooke,  Hum.,  91,  124,  149,  152-3,  158, 

160,  161,  163  (2). 
Hooke,  Sir  Hum.,  172  (2). 
Hopkins,  John,  64. 
Hot  Wells,  see  Clifton. 
Hot  Well  Point  removed,  262. 
Iceland  trade,  14,  25. 
Impressment  for  navy;   abuses,  199. 
Index,  341. 

Irish  food  imports,  178,  193. 
Irish  rebel  privateers,  166.  [197 

Irish  trade,  restrictions  on,  177-8  ;  191  to 
Iron,  price  of,  23,  190,  221. 
Jackson,  Miles,  124,  155,  158,  159,  221. 
James  I.,  arbitrary  rule  of,  112  to  117; 

ship  money,  123-7  '•  ca^  skins  monopoly, 

140  ;  American  charters,  148. 

James,  Thomas,  M.P.,  112,  148;   Alex., 

124,  131,  159,  163  (3);  Thomas,  Arctic 

explorer,  158. 
Jessop,  William,  plans  for  Float,   212, 


John,  King,  and  Bristol,  3  (3),  4. 
Jones, William,  24,  31 ;  Rich  ,  benefactor, 

176;  J.  Averay,  252,  272;  Philip,  gift  to 

Colston's  School,  290. 
Kelke,  Thomas,  46. 
Kingston,  Duke  of,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Kirtlington,  ship,  gallantry  of,  199. 
Kitchin,  Abel,  124,  131,  140,  155. 
Knight,  Francis,  140. 
Knight,  Sir  John  I.,   122,  139,  143,  147, 

167,  170  n. 

Knight,  Sir  John  II.,  170  ».,  228. 
Knighthood,  compositions  for,  130. 
Lane,  O.  C,  death  of,  273. 
Langton,  John,  124,  149,  161. 
Laroche,  Sir  Jas.,  185,  220. 
Lawe  Ditch,  19. 
Leigh  Woods  purchased,  259. 
Levant  trade,  see  Turkey. 
Lewis  family,  140,  142,  143. 
Little  Red  Book,  12,  13. 
Liverpool,  Earl  of,  hon.  freeman,  270. 
Locke,  John,  124,  131,  159. 
Long,  Richard,  124,  136,   151,  155,  158, 

160,  161,  163  (2). 
Lunell,  W.  P.,  accident  to,  273. 
Mariners,  local  Fraternity  of,  19. 
Mark's,  St.,  Hospital  estates,  37. 
MASTERS  OF  SOCIETY,  list  of,  326 ;  badge, 


Mayors  of  the  Staple,  12. 

Mayor's  Dues  on  shipping,  236-242. 

Maze,  Peter,  257. 

Melville,  Lords,  hon.  freemen,  270. 

Mercantile  System,  The,  177. 

Mercantile  Marine  Board,  255. 

Mercers'  Company,  London,  14. 

Merchant  Guild,  1-9. 

Merchant  Adventurers  of  England,  v., 
J3>  J5>  39>  88,  106. 

Merchant  Staplers,  n. 

Merchants'  Company,  Bristol,  created  by 
Corporation,  15,  16,  23-35. 

Petition  to  the  Crown,  37  ;  Charter  of 
Edward  VI.,  38, 39, 42 ;  attempted  trad- 
ing monopoly,  38,  39,  46,  47,  52,  53,  66, 
67,  82,  87,  107,  108,  no;  Charter  of 
Elizabeth,  46;  Act  creating  a  trade 
monopoly,  47 ;  Corporation  procure  its 
repeal,  53,  55 ;  attempts  to  revive,  82, 
83 ;  grant  of  arms  to  Society,  50;  lease 
of  anchorage  dues,  62 ;  Society  reor- 
ganised by  Corporation,  63 ;  collects 
wharfage  dues,  65,  164 ;  lease  of  dues, 
164-5,  2°8  J  ordinances  denning  official 
functions,  admission  of  members,  &c., 
67-80;  list  of  members  (1618),  81 ;  sup- 
pression of  piracy,  82,  123 ;  infringe- 
ments of  rules,  83 ;  edicts  against 



"foreigners,"  85,  169;  first  Charter  of 
Charles  I.,  88 ;  Charter  Day  fixed,  88  ; 
ordinances  revised,  97;  second  Charter 
of  Charles  I.,  105,  161 ;  Charter  of 
Charles  II.,  109;  seizure  of  Society's 
records,  in  ;  royal  exactions,  115,  117, 
118,  121 ;  appeal  to  Long  Parliament, 
1 19 ;  Custom-house  extortions,  119-122; 
protest  against  Ship  Money,  123-4  '• 
declines  to  farm  Customs,  128;  Levant 
trade,  137-140  ;  license  to  export  calf- 
skins, 140 ;  Welsh  butter  license,  143-6; 
applies  for  wine  licenses,  146 ;  explor- 
ing expeditions,  147-9  ;  New  England 
project,  150 ;  emigration  to  America, 
151 ;  privateering  152  ;  Arctic  expedi- 
tion, 157;  compulsory  arbitration,  159; 
gifts  to  King,  &c.,  161-2;  rebel  priva- 
teers, 166;  offer  of  East  India  Company, 
167;  Manor  of  Clifton  bought,  167;  the 
Hot  Well,  see  Clifton ;  visitors  enter- 
tained, 172;  a  member  expelled,  173; 
civic  gift  of  land,  176 ;  resistance  to 
African  Company,  178-183  ;  progress 
of  Slave  Trade,  179,  183-5 ;  defence  of 
the  trade,  185;  appeal  for  sugar  bounties, 
187;  Spanish  "depredations,"  188-9; 
Walpole's  Excise  scheme,  189 ;  policy 
towards  America,  190-1 ;  and  towards 
Ireland,  192,  196-7 ;  recruiting  for  the 
Navy,  197  ;  statue  of  William  III.,  200  ; 
Patriotic  Fund  (1745),  201 — (1798),  205; 
direction  of  war  cruisers,  203  ;  defence 
of  the  port,  206  ;  improvement  of  Avon, 
&c.  ,206 ;  efforts  on  behalf  of  city  docks, 
208,  211-14;  purchase  of  Champion's 
dock  ,210;  New  Hot  Well,  215;  votes 
for  improvements,  &c.,  219,  266;  pre- 
sents of  wine,  220  ;  fines  for  admission, 
222,  267,  270-1 ;  treatment  of  Quakers, 
222  ;  attendances  at  Halls,  223  ;  upper- 
class  apprentices,  224  ;  hon.  members, 
224,  270 ;  Charter  Day  festivities,  226 ; 
audit  dinners,  227;  pensions,  228  ;  local 
dues  on  shipping,  237 ;  Municipal  Cor- 
poration inquiry,  243 ;  cranage  dues 
surrendered,  245  ;  Port  and  Pier  Rail- 
way, 251 ;  Portishead  Railway,  Dock, 
&c.,  252-3;  Avonmouth  Dock,  252; 
Downs  granted  to  city,  260 ;  Charter 
Day  on  Sunday,  271 ;  a  protest  disal- 
lowed, 271 ;  Master's  casting  vote,  271 ; 
fee  to  Standing  Committee,  271  ;  badge 
of  Master,  273 ;  changes  in  Hall  busi- 
ness, 273 ;  benefactions,  274 ;  takes 
over  the  Trade  School,  308;  income 
of  Society,  324. 

MERCHANTS'  HALL  (see  St.  Clement's 
Chapel)  21,  153 ;  furniture,  154 ;  re- 
constructed, 221  ;  civic  and  other 
feasts,  226-30 ;  balls,  230,  275  ; 
decorated  and  extended,  274. 

MERCHANTS'  ALMSHOUSE,  19,  22,  23,  82, 
176,  277,  281. 

MERCHANTS'  SCHOOL  (original),  82,  230  ; 

for  navigation,  230,  306. 

308;  opened,  311;  progress  and  cost, 

318  20  ;  co-ordination  with  Board  and 

Art   Schools,   321  ;    aid   sought   from 

Technical     Committee,    323  ;     urgent 

need  of  development,  324. 
Merchants'  Road,  266. 
Meredith,  Sir  W.,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Miles,  Wm.,   185,  211;    P.  W.  S.,  251; 

hon.  freeman,  270;    P.  J  ,  278.      . 
Mints,  Bristol,  161,  176. 
Mohun,  Lord,  135. 
Monkton,  manor  of,  292-8. 
Morgan  family,  Pill,  155. 
Moseley,  Canon,  304. 
Municipal  Corporations'  inquiry,  243. 
Navy,  recruiting  for,  197,  205. 
Newfoundland,  colonies  at,  148,  149. 
Newnes,  Sir  Geo.,  262. 
Nickalls,  Jos.,  dock  plans,  211,  212. 
North,  Lord,  hon  freeman,  191. 
Northampton,  Marquis  of,  259. 
Nugent,  Rob.  (Earl),  192,  193,  225. 
Observatory,  Clifton,  263. 
Osborne  family,  230,  276. 
Patriotic  funds,  202,  205. 
Patrimony,  freedom  by,  32,  63,  75,  76,  268. 
Paul,  Capt.,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Pembroke  Road,  265. 
Penke,  John,  24. 
Penny,  Capt.,  letter  of,  204. 
Penpole,  compass  at,  172 
Perkins,  Thos.,  247. 
Peters,  Edw.,  131. 
Pictures  in  Hull,  155,  221,  275. 
Pill,  gross  abuses  at,  155,  199;  votes  to, 


Pilotage  regulations,  254. 
Pinney,  John, 186. 
Piracy    by    Bristol    merchants,   59 ;    in 

Bristol  Channel,  82, 123, 159;  Algerine, 

123-7,  2I9- 

Pitt,  Wm.,  83,  124,  153. 
Pitt,  Wm.,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Pitts,  Sam.,  gallantry  of,  199. 
Poor,  Corporation  of,  176-7. 
Popham,  John,  M.P.,  52,  148. 
Popley,  Derrick,  83,  124. 
Popwell,  Wm.,  23. 
Port  improvements,  see  Avon. 
Port  and  Pier  Railway,  251-2. 
Portishead,  pier  and  docks,  242,  249,  252 
Portland,  Earl  of,  120. 
Portugal  trade,  15,  82,  88. 
Poulet,  Earl,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Prescott,  Geo.,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Price,  Sam.,  176;  John,  231. 
Pring,  Martin,  147,  148,  153,  206. 
Prisage  of  wines,  112. 
Privateers,  Bristol,  152,  201,  202,  204. 
Protheroe,  Philip,  186. 
Prynn,  Edw.  (first  Master),  22,  38,  39. 
Puritan  emigration  stopped,  150. 



Furrier,  John,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Purveyance,  abuses  of,  112  to  117,  120. 
Quaker  refused  admission,  222. 
Queen  Elizabeth's  Hospital,  282  (2). 
Raglan,  Lord,  hon.  freeman,  270. 
Raleigh,  Sir  W.,  piracy  by,  59. 
Redemption,  freedom  by,  33,  222,  267. 
Ricketts,  Fred.,  257. 
Rockingham,  Lord,  hon.  freeman,  190. 
Rodney,  Adm.,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Romney,  Col.  J.,  146. 
Rowe,  John,  expelled,  173. 
Rowland,  Thos. ,  51. 
Rupert,  Prince,  161  (2),  162  (2). 
Sadleir,  Sir  Ralph,  22,  167. 
Sandwich,  Lord,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Sandy,  Walter,  150. 
Saumarez,  Capt.,  gift  to,  203. 
Saville,  Sir  George,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Scrope,  John,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Sheffield,  Lord,  hon.  freeman,  186,  225. 
Ship  money  writs,  60,  123,  129,  133. 
Shipping,  Bristol   (1572),  57 ;   excessive 

dues,  236  to  244. 
Slave  trade,  see  African  trade,  extent  of 

J79i    l%3-5  •    men-of-war  engaged   in, 

181 ;    food   of   slaves,   184 ;    agitation 

against,  184;  barbarities,  185-6;  profits 

of,  185. 

Small  Street  Gate  removed,  218. 
Smeaton's  dock  schemes,  208,  212. 
Smith,  Sir  Jarrit,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Smyth,  Sir  Greville,  259,  261. 
Snygge,  Sir  Geo.,  114,  115. 
Soapmakers  oppressed,  108,  131. 
Somerset,  Lord  G.,  Lord  E.,  and  Lord  F., 

hon.  freemen,  257,  270. 
Somerset,  ship  money  in,  62. 
Southwell,  Edw.,  hon.  freemen,  225  (2). 
Spain,  trade  with,  11,15,  5&>  59>  61.  82,  88. 
Spanish    Co.,  62,  63;    "depredations," 


Span,  Sam.,  185,  195-6. 
Spencer,  Earl,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Spencer's  Hall,  see  Back  Hall. 
Staple  Court,  n,  12,  13,  15 n. 
Stapleton  Palace  bought,  299. 
Star  Chamber  abuses,  121,  137. 
Stogursey,  see  Monkton. 
Steamships  introduced,  242. 
Strangers'  goods,  see  Foreigners, 
Stubbs,  Bishop,  on  guilds,  7. 
Sturmy,  Robt.,  16. 
Subscribers,  list  of,  336. 
Suffolk,  Lord,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Sugar,  export  bounties,  186-8. 
Sussex,  Earl  of,  hon.  freeman,  225. 

Taylor,  John,  83,  151,  158,  160  (2),  T.T., 
Tea,  local  imports,  254.  [251- 

Technical  Instruction  Com.,  314-8. 
Theatre,  Jacobs'  Wells,  215. 
Thomas,  Chris.  J.,  251. 
Thome,  Robt.,  15. 
Thurlow,  Lord,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Tobacco  imports  forbidden,  130;  home 

cultivation,  171 ;  smoking,  171. 
Tomlinson,  John,  124,  130,  158. 
Town  Wall,  19,  176. 
Town  Dues,  excessive,  236  to  244. 
Townshend,  Chas.,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Trade    School,   301-6;    taken    over   by 

Society,  308,  see  M.V.  College. 
Treasurers,  Society's,  334 ;  gifts  to,  220. 
Tucker  Street,  10. 

Turkey  Co.'s  monopoly,  137-140,  190. 
Tynte,  Sir  C.  K.,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Vaughan,  Rich.,  26;  Rich.,  185. 
Vawer,  Alderman,  64. 
Vick,  Willm.,  his  bridge  bequest,  257. 
Victoria  Rooms,  hovels  near,  266. 
Vintners'  Comp.,  London,  118. 
Volunteers,  Bristol,  205. 
Wales,  F.,  Prince  of,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Wansey,  Wm.,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Ward,  W.  W.,  on  Monkton  manor,  293. 
WARDENS,  List  of,  326. 
Water  Works,  proposed  Clifton,  263. 
Water  Company,  Bristol,  264. 
Weare,  John  F.,  185. 
Weavers,  see  Cloth  Trade. 
Wertheimer,  Julius,  Principal,  314. 
Wellington,  Duke  of,  hon.  freeman,  270. 
Westmorland,   Earl    of,    hon.    freeman, 

225,  229. 
Wharfage  Dues  created,  64 ;   leased  to 

Society,  164,  165,  208 ;  reduced,  248 ; 

surrendered,  256. 
Whiteladies  Road,  265. 
Whitson,  John,  62,  64,  66,  82,  112,  124, 

127,  140,  145,  147,  155,  221, 
William  III.,  statue  of,  200. 
Wine,  Royal,  at  Bristol,  3 ;  royal  exac- 
tions on,  112  to  119;  Society's  gifts  of, 

157,  220. 

Wine  licenses,  local,  146. 
Woad  trade,  23. 
Worcester,  Marquis  of  (Dukeof  Beaufort), 

172  ;  Marquis,  hon.  freeman,  225. 
Worrall,  Samuel,  230. 
Wyatt,  Willm.,  131,  162. 
Yate,  Robt.,  169. 
Yeamans,  Wm.,  145. 
York,  Archbishop  of,  on  local  abuses,  155. 
York,  Duke  of,  hon.  freeman,  225. 

1     a 

&  W   *J  J*  A 


Page  16,  5th  line  from  foot,  for  "  xx  "  read  "  xv." 
Page  33,  line  21,  for  "  eny  "  nad  "evy." 
Page  33,  i2th  line  from  foot,  for  "  eny  "  nad  "  evy." 
Page  35,  line  4,  ditto. 

Page  35,  line  22,  ditto. 

Page  35,  line  27,  foy  "  alwey  "  ra^  "  awey." 
Page  40,  line  4,  for  "  habend  "  read  :t  hend." 
Page  40,  4th  line  from  foot,  for  "  ac  "  read  "  et." 
Page  41,  line  3,  for  "huiusmodo"  read  "  huiusmodi. 
Page  41,  line  6,  for  "  existend  "  read  "  existen." 
Page  42,  line  6,  for  "  aditaut  "  read  "  aditant." 

J.  W.  Arrowsmith,  Printer,  Quay  Street,  Bristol. 

BINDING  SECT.  NOV  1 1  1970